La Boheme 2015

An introduction to La Bohème

Take a closer look at our production of La Bohème

The story

Regularly voted as the world’s favourite opera, Puccini’s evocation of life, love and death in Bohemian Paris at the turn of the century has had audiences weeping into their handkerchiefs ever since its premiere in 1896.

When Rodolfo, a penniless poet, meets Mimì, a seamstress, they fall passionately in love. But their relationship is turbulent and happiness eludes them. Some months later Rodolfo learns that Mimì is gravely ill and the Bohemian friends do everything in their power to save her. It is too late.

This is a revival of our 2015 production of La Bohème which was directed by Stephen Medcalf and conducted by Stephen Barlow. The 2020 production will feature a new cast.

La Bohème

Gianluca Terranova as Rodolfo and Susana Gaspar as Mimi from La Bohème 2015 photo credit: Robert Workman

History

Composer: Giacomo Puccini.

Libretto: Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on the novel Scenes de la Vie de Bohème by Henri Murger, a collection of vignettes portraying young bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s.

The composition of La Bohème took over three years. Working with the notoriously difficult Puccini was a tempestuous process for Illica, Giacosa and Murger. Giacosa resigned three times. By December 1895 the work was finally completed and Puccini held a masked ball to celebrate.

First performed: Teatro Regio, Turin, in February 1896, conducted by Arturo Toscanini, aged 28. It had a lukewarm reception initially but its fortunes changed immediately. It was first performed in England in April 1897 at Theatre Royal Manchester, in English, supervised by Puccini.

Puccini (left) with librettists Giacosa and Illica, 1893

Meet the cast

Rodolfo, a poet: Cody Austin. Cody makes his Grange Park Opera debut as Rodolfo. He has recently sung Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly at Central City Opera, Colorado and Alfred in Die Fledermaus at Opera Tampa, Florida.

Mimi, a seamstress: Ailish Tynan. Ailish is an Irish soprano and returns to Grange Park Opera this summer for the first time since 2009, when she starred as Vixen in The Cunning Little Vixen.

Marcello, a painter: Gyula Nagy. Hungarian baritone Gyula makes his debut with us as Marcello. He has previously performed in Komishe Oper’s production of Der Jahrmarkt von Sorotschinziand.

Musetta, a singer: Gemma Summerfield. Gemma makes her debut with us as Musetta. She has previously sung Fiordgili in Cosi Fan Tutte with Bury Court Opera and Pamina in The Magic Flute with Scottish Opera.

Schaunard, a musician: Harry Thatcher. Harry sang the role of Bello in Fancuilla del West and Flemish deputy in Don Carlo in 2016. In 2017 he sang Starek in Jenufa.

Colline, a philosopher: David Shipley. David returns to Grange Park Opera after singing the role of Monk / Charles V in Don Carlo in 2019.

Alcindoro, a state councillor: Andrew Shore. Andrew makes his debut with us this season. In the coming year he will sing Pooh-Bah in The Mikado at English National Opera and the title role in Don Pasquale at Welsh National Opera.

Cody Austin

Cody Austin

The music

La Bohème contains some of opera’s best-loved music. Act 1 features some of the world’s most famous arias: Rodolfo’s ‘Che gelida manina’ (your tiny hand is frozen) and ‘Sì, mi chiamano Mimì'(‘Yes, they call me Mimi’) and their soaring love duet ‘O soave fancuilla’ (‘O lovely maid in the moonlight’) when Rodolfo and Mimi first declare their love for each other.

Puccini’s score also perfectly captures life in Bohemian Paris: the ambiance of busy Parisian cafes, the flurry of activity as the Bohemians go about their work and the delicate sound of snowflakes falling in the harsh winter landscape.

Stephen Barlow will conduct the orchestra of English National Opera. Stephen conducted Porgy & Bess for the 2019 season and Romeo et Juliette in 2018.

 

Orchestra

Performances

Dates: Thur 18 June, Sat 20 June, Wed 24 June, Thurs 2 July, Sun 5 July, Wed 8 July, Sat 11 July

Start time: 5.30 or 6.00 depending on performance date

Running time: 2 hours

Language: Sung in Italian with English surtitles

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Public booking opens 3 March 2020

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