Pictured: Alyssa Toepfer
Opera180 will conclude its first season with the classic “La Bohéme,” music by Giacomo Puccini and libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica.
Sung in Italian, the production will be directed by Sarah Zsohar, and feature Kristin Newbegin as Mimi, Joshua Baum as Rodolfo, Alyssa Toepfer as Musetta, Paul Hindemith as Marcello, and Christina Dominguez-Fracul as Colline. John Mueter will make his debut as Music Director.
Congruent to Opera180’s mission, the company is revising the work to tighten and streamline the storytelling. The production will feature only the core 6 characters in the original work with a running time of 100 minutes.
“Opera allows us the opportunity to catch a glimpse into the world as it existed at the time of composition, comments Artistic Director Dr. Elizabeth Birger. “Stories vary from worlds of fantasy to moments of historical significance. The verismo opera art-form invites the audience to connect with characters and feel their human experience. “La Bohéme” is classic because the story is timeless and relatable; it is one of love and loss, community and self-discovery. The characters have individual journeys that intertwine at pivotal moments. Our production takes the traditional story and updates the production a bit to be more representative of our current vernacular culture.”
“The production’s 1896 premiere was quite polarizing,” comments Executive Director Nate Wheatley. “Audiences were unequivocally enthusiastic about the work, but critics found it to be oversimplified. Even French composer Claude Debussy declared that an Italian like Puccini could never take on this particular subject matter concerning French history and art. That is what I relish in the most about Opera180 choosing to produce this piece of classic repertoire first. Working to make opera more accessible to the public at large, and worrying less about what aristocrats have to say, speaks to the core of what our company is out to do. I believe all art is for public consumption and we shouldn’t be barred from experiencing art because a particular critic believes it to be worthless.”
“La Bohéme” runs May 30, 31, and June 1 at The Drawing Room by Weinberger Fine Art at 1903 Wyandotte in downtown Kansas City. For more information visit opera180.org.