One of the most performed opera’s — ‘La Boheme’ shows in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

One of the most performed opera’s — ‘La Boheme’ shows in Grass Valley

John Deaderick
Special to Prospector

The award-winning 1996 musical "Rent" is based on "La Boheme" and the song "Light My Candle" has direct references to the scene in Act 1 of "La Boheme."

This Saturday the Del Oro Theatre presents Giacomo Puccini's "La Boheme" as the latest offering of new season of The Met Opera Live in HD.

A work of universal appeal, "La Boheme" is the most frequently performed work in the history of the Metropolitan Opera; it may be the most performed opera of all ( La Traviatta, Rigoletto?). So, why is this? A sumptuously melodic tale, its characters — "Bohemians" — meaning those artsy types inhabiting drafty Parisian garrets at the edge of poverty as they pursue their poetry, painting, etc., are easily recognizable.

No princes, no fantastically impossible heroes and heroines: these are roguish, charming, flawed, realistic portrayals of human hopes and fallibilities. "La Boheme" exemplifies verismo, the Italian school that rejected the excesses of Romanticism to find artistic verity in everyday life, especially in the lives of the so-called "lower" classes. And yet, that said, the opera revels in romance.

Puccini's score, lush and overflowing remains imminently hummable. If you've never heard the opera, you may recognize Musetta's waltz from Act 2, "Quando me'n vo'," adapted as the pop song "Don't You Know" in the late 1950s. The pair of arias preceding the extraordinary duet between Rodolfo and Mimi in Act 1, "Che gelida manina," "Si, mi chiammo Mimi" leading to "O soave fanciulla," may be the most touching and ecstatic musical portrayal of love's awakening there is.

Of course, life on the edge exacts its price.

The great plague of the nineteenth century, tuberculosis, then known as consumption, consumes La Boheme's heroine. Hearts break and tears flow, all with striking musical perfection. Mimi is sung here by Sonya Yoncheva, recently dazzling in the title role of Puccini's Tosca. The Met presents its warhorse, the classic period production designed by Franco Zefferelli, no high concept here, but Paris in the 1890s.

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"Rent," the award-winning 1996 musical based on La Bohème features the song "Light My Candle" that directly references the Act 1 scene mentioned above, the meeting of Rodolfo and Mimi. "Musetta's Waltz" puts in a cameo appearance, and love and loss are front and center.

John Deaderick is a local theater artist and the author of "Make Sweet the Minds of Men: Early Opera and Tragic Catharsis," available at Amazon.com.

KNOW & GO

WHAT: The Metropolitan Opera, LIVE in HD — “La Boheme”

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. Saturday

WHERE: The Del Oro Theatre, 165 Mill Street, Grass Valley

TICKETS: $22 Adults, $20 Seniors, $18 Children 12 and under & students with ID; Available online at http://www.sierratheaters.com or at the Del Oro Box Office

INFO: Visit http://www.sierratheaters.com, or call 530-477-1100 for more information

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