La bohème

Based on Henri Murger’s novel, Scènes de la vie de bohème, (Scenes from a bohemian life), La bohème is a grand story of love and sorrow told through a poetic libretto and tremendous score. This production will be directed by Tomer Zvulun, General and Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera. Arthur Fagen, The Carl and Sally Gable Music Director, will conduct. Gianluca Terranova makes his Atlanta Opera debut as Rodolfo.

Performed in Italian with English supertitles

Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre

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Mangia

All Performances: Pre-show fine dining
$55 for Sat, Tues, Fri dinner
$42.50 for Sun brunch

Opera’s Night Out

Young professionals enjoy a pre-show cocktail hour + ticket to the show
$40 for Under 40

Groups

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For groups of 10 or more
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Get the Feeling

Synopsis

Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Librettist:  Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica
Premiere Date: February 11, 1840

ACT I
Paris, the 1830s. In their Latin Quarter garret, the near-destitute artist Marcello and poet Rodolfo try to keep warm on Christmas Eve by feeding the stove with pages from Rodolfo’s latest drama. They are soon joined by their roommates—Colline, a philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician, who brings food, fuel, and funds he has collected from an eccentric student. While they celebrate their unexpected fortune, the landlord, Benoit, comes to collect the rent. After making the older man drunk, they urge him to tell of his flirtations. When he does, they throw him out in mock indignation at his infidelity to his wife. As his friends depart to celebrate at the Café Momus, Rodolfo remains behind to finish an article but promises to join them later. There is another knock at the door—the visitor is Mimì, a pretty neighbor, whose candle has gone out on the stairway. As she enters the room she suddenly feels faint. Rodolfo gives her a sip of wine, then helps her to the door and relights her candle. Mimì realizes she lost her key when she fainted, and as the two search for it, both candles are blown out. Rodolfo finds the key and slips it into his pocket. In the moonlight, he takes Mimì’s hand and tells her about his dreams. She recounts her life alone in a lofty garret, embroidering flowers and waiting for the spring. Rodolfo’s friends are heard outside, calling him to join them. He responds that he is not alone and will be along shortly. Happy to have found each other, Mimì and Rodolfo leave, arm in arm, for the café.

ACT II
Amid the shouts of street hawkers near the Café Momus, Rodolfo buys Mimì a bonnet and introduces her to his friends. They all sit down and order supper. The toy vendor Parpignol passes by, besieged by children. Marcello’s former sweetheart, Musetta, makes a noisy entrance on the arm of the elderly but wealthy Alcindoro. The ensuing tumult reaches its peak when, trying to gain Marcello’s attention, she loudly sings the praises of her own popularity. Sending Alcindoro off on a pretext, she finally falls into Marcello’s arms. Soldiers march by the café, and as the bohemians fall in behind, the returning Alcindoro is presented with the check.

ACT III
At dawn on the snowy outskirts of Paris, a customs official admits farm women to the city. Guests are heard drinking and singing within a tavern. Mimì arrives, searching for Marcello. When the painter appears, she tells him of her distress over Rodolfo’s incessant jealousy. She says she believes it is best that they part. Rodolfo, who has been asleep in the tavern, comes outside. Mimì hides nearby, though Marcello thinks she has left. Rodolfo tells his friend that he wants to separate from Mimì, blaming her flirtatiousness. Pressed for the real reason, he breaks down, saying that her coughing can only grow worse in the poverty they share. Overcome with emotion, Mimì comes forward to say goodbye to her lover. Marcello runs back into the tavern upon hearing Musetta’s laughter. While Mimì and Rodolfo recall past happiness, Marcello returns with Musetta, quarreling about her flirting with a customer. They hurl insults at each other and part, but Mimì and Rodolfo decide to remain together until spring.

ACT IV
Months later in the garret, Rodolfo and Marcello, now separated from their girlfriends, reflect on their loneliness. Colline and Schaunard bring a meager meal. To lighten their spirits the four stage a dance, which turns into a mock duel. At the height of the hilarity Musetta bursts in with news that Mimì is outside, too weak to come upstairs. As Rodolfo runs to her aid, Musetta relates how Mimì begged to be taken to Rodolfo to die. She is made as comfortable as possible, while Musetta asks Marcello to sell her earrings for medicine and Colline goes off to pawn his overcoat. Left alone, Mimì and Rodolfo recall their meeting and their first happy days, but she is seized with violent coughing. When the others return, Musetta gives Mimì a muff to warm her hands and prays for her life. Mimì slowly drifts into unconsciousness. Schaunard realizes that she is dead, and Rodolfo is left desperate.

Characters & Cast

Mimi

Rodolfo’s lover

Borsi, MariaLuigia

Maria Luigia Borsi

Hailed by critics worldwide for her vocal dynamism and interpretive prowess, Italian lyric soprano Maria Luigia Borsi has forged a career that has taken her throughout Europe, Asia and the United States.

Rodolfo

a young artist and Mimi’s lover

Terranova_Gianluca

Gianluca Terranova

Roma-born tenor Gianluca Terranova is rapidly becoming one of the most sought-after lyric tenors with his ease in the high register and great stage presence.

Musetta

Marcello’s on-again, off-again lover

Partridge_Leah

Leah Partridge

Soprano Leah Partridge has received consistent praise worldwide for her intelligent and compelling interpretations of opera’s most beloved heroines.

Marcello

Musetta’s lover

Scheunemann_Trevor_small

Trevor Scheunemann

Praised by Opera News for his “lovely timbre”, and “dramatic timing”, as well as the Washington Post for his “rich and gleaming” voice, Trevor Scheunemann quickly established himself as one of opera’s leading baritones.

Newbie Guide

The Opera Experience

Operas on our mainstage are grand theatrical experiences. You can always expect the unexpected, and for our productions to be presented at the highest quality.

Supertitles

Many operas are in a foreign language. Supertitles are similar to subtitles in a film, except they are projected above the stage. These translations will help you follow what’s happening on stage.

What to Wear

There is no dress code at The Opera and you will see everything from jeans to evening gowns and formal suits. Most people use it as a chance to enjoy dressing up in their own style.

Arriving in Good Time

If you are late, you will be escorted to the nearest late seating area. At intermission ushers will show you to your seat. Plan ahead to arrive with extra time.

Directions & Parking at Cobb Energy Center

Enhance Your Visit

Mangia!

Our elegant three course dining at the Cobb Energy Center is seated on the mezzanine before every performance. Please make reservations 5 business days prior to the performance.

Reserve Mangia!

Pre-Performance Talk

Learn about the history of the opera and the composer with board member and opera aficionado, Carter Joseph. One hour prior to curtain. Free with your ticket!

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Familiarizing Yourself with the Story

Because of the foreign languages, classical music, and often complex plots, you will very likely enjoy the performance better if you spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the story and characters in advance. Some people even like to listen to the music in advance and others prefer to let it wash over them during the show and perhaps look it up afterwards.

Visit our Study Guides Library

How is an Opera Staged?

Auditions

Actors first audition for roles up to a year in advance, or for more experienced artists, directors also invite them to play a role.

Rehearsals

Most of the rehearsals are held in our rehearsal hall, and not the actual theatre. The conductor begins orchestra rehearsals about a week and half before opening night. They have four rehearsals with the conductor, and then the singers are added into the mix.

Sets & Costumes

The Atlanta Opera Costume Shop alters the costumes to fit our singers. Sometimes they do have to make costumes if there aren’t enough, or if there is nothing that fits, etc. Once the sets are in place, the cast begins rehearsing at the theatre. The Opera production staff works with staff at the theatre to get all of the lighting and technical aspects of the production together.

Sitzprobe & Dress Rehearsal

The orchestra comes together with the singers in a special rehearsal called sitzprobe. There are no costumes during the sitzprobe, this is mainly to hear the voices with the orchestra. There is a piano dress rehearsal, when the singers rehearse in full costume for the first time so they can get used to wearing them. Finally, all of the pieces are put together for two full dress rehearsals leading up to opening night.

Composer

Giacomo Puccini
(1858 – 1924)

Puccini emerged into the twentieth century music world as the “King of Verismo,” not through the conducting background of Mascagni or through the skilled compositional ability of Giordano, but as a master of theater. Puccini wrote solely for the operatic stage and he understood the dramatic intensity and melodic poignancy of real life subject matter. Critics have sometimes dismissed his work as overly impassioned, melodramatic, and sentimental. The composer himself proclaimed, “The only music I can make is that of small things,” although he admired the grander stylistic abilities of Verdi and Wagner. Despite that admiration, Puccini chose to concentrate on life’s familiar bittersweet passions and intense emotional storms.

Puccini was born in Lucca, Italy and descended from a long line of musicians, conductors, and composers. It was assumed he would inherit the talent and interest to continue in his family’s chosen craft. At the tender age of six years, upon his father’s premature death, he fell heir to the position of choir master and organist at San Martino Church and professor of music at Collegio Ponziano. However, plans to preserve these posts for the young Puccini may as well have been canceled the day he hiked thirteen miles to the city of Pisa to witness a production of Giuseppe Verdi’s latest work, Aida. He determined his own future at that moment, falling completely under the spell of opera, never to recover.

A stipend from a wealthy great-uncle and a scholarship from Queen Margherita herself supported Puccini in his education at the music conservatory in Milan. The great composers Antonio Bazzini and Amilcare Ponchielli taught the young musician; Ponchielli eventually encouraging Puccini’s participation in a one-act opera competition sponsored by the publishing house of Sonzogno. Friends of Ponchielli even provided the libretto. Unfortunately, Puccini’s first opera, La Villi , didn’t take the prize. However, the powerful critic/librettist, Arrigo Boito, raised funds for its performance before appreciative audiences at La Scala and Ricordi published the score. The modest success bolstered Puccini’s confidence, but provided little compensation. A second opera, Edgar , failed as the result of a poor libretto.

Puccini’s persistence was rewarded with the production of Manon Lescaut . Premiered in February 1893 in Turin, the opera proved a resounding triumph. Puccini was suddenly established as a wealthy composer and artistic successor to Maestro Giuseppi Verdi. The two operas that followed, La Bohème  and Tosca, achieved success gradually with Bohème peaking after three productions and Tosca, after five years of presentations throughout Europe.

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As Puccini acquired substantial wealth, he took on the persona which accompanied him throughout the rest of his life as the “grand seigneur.” He built a reputation as a dedicated game hunter, collector of cars and motor boats, and a great romantic figure. “I am almost always in love!,” he declared, and defined himself as “a mighty hunter of wild fowl, operatic librettos and attractive women.” His appreciation and compassion for women abounds in the substance of his operatic heroines, their valiant struggles and, most often, melancholy demise. He created these elegant, three-dimensional characters with the material of sweet and haunting melody. The innocent Mimi, embattled Tosca, abandoned Butterfly, embittered Turandot – each one a fascinating study in feminine psychology, each the perfect counterpart to an equally interesting tenor role. Puccini’s own stormy relationship with Elvira Gemignani evoked a certain horror in fans and attracted something of a lurid interest from the general public. A married woman, she eloped with the composer and they were not married until some time after her husband’s death. Seemingly an uninteresting and strangely unchallenging partner, she is said to have limited Puccini intellectually and emotionally, inexplicably cutting him off from most personal relationships with friends and other artists.

Eventually, she embroiled the household in scandal, hounding a young maid unmercifully with accusations of a liaison with her husband. The girl committed suicide and Elvira was jailed for five months. The Puccinis separated, then reconciled, but their relationship was forever damaged. Puccini fought hard to keep his difficult private life private, against impossible odds. “What a subject for an opera!,” one social columnist exclaimed. During this tragic episode, despite his obvious emotional turmoil, the composer completed the opera La Fanciulla del West , which met with immediate acclaim.

In general, Puccini seems to have lived in artistic isolation. Even a productive relationship with Arturo Toscanini blew hot and cold. In one comic exchange, Puccini forgot he and Toscanini were currently estranged and sent a Christmas pannetone. Realizing the error, Puccini wired Toscanini with an explanation:

PANNETONE SENT BY MISTAKE, PUCCINI.

Toscanini immediately replied:

PANNETONE EATEN BY MISTAKE, TOSCANINI.

It was Toscanini who conducted the famous opening night of Madama Butterfly , which ran in its original form for that one performance only. After serious reworking, including changing the basic framework from two acts to three and replacing some objectionable arias with more melodic ones, Butterfly triumphed in a new opening under the baton of Arturo Toscanini.

In the single decade before his death, Puccini completed La Rondine , and the trilogy of Il Tabarro , Suor Angelica andGianni Schicchi . He was in the process of finishing Turandot , the opera he considered his crowning achievement, when a persistent throat ailment was diagnosed as cancer. He died a few days after surgery and completion of the work was left to colleague, Franco Alfano. Shortly before his death, Puccini wrote that the music audience had lost its taste for melody and tolerated music devoid of logic and sensibility. He predicted “the end of opera” and, in fact, Turandot , was the last opera to rank as an internationally accepted standard repertory piece. No one since Puccini has enjoyed such a following.

Courtesy Arizona Opera Virtual Opera House

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Conductor

Arthur Fagen

 

Arthur Fagen has been the Carl and Sally Gable music director at The Atlanta Opera since 2010, and continues to be in great demand as a conductor of symphony and opera both in Europe and the United States. He is a regular guest at the most prestigious opera houses, concert halls, and music festivals at home and abroad, and his career has been marked by a string of notable appearances including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Staatsoper Berlin, Munich State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the New York City Opera.

A former assistant of Christoph von Dohnanyi (Frankfurt Opera) and James Levine (Metropolitan Opera), he served as principal conductor in Kassel and Brunswick, as chief conductor of the Flanders Opera of Antwerp and Ghent, as music director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra, and as a member of the conducting staff of the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Fagen was born in New York and studied with Laszlo Halasz, Max Rudolf (Curtis Institute) and Hans Swarowsky. Fagen has an opera repertoire of more than 75 works and has recorded for Naxos and BMG. The recent Naxos recording of Martinůs works was awarded Editor’s Choice in the March 2010 issue of Gramophone Magazine.

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Director

Tomer Zvulun

 

General and Artistic Director of The Atlanta Opera since 2013, Tomer Zvulun is also one of opera’s most exciting stage directors, earning consistent praise for his creative vision, often described as cinematic and fresh. His work has been presented by prestigious opera houses around the world, including The Metropolitan Opera, the opera companies of Seattle, San Diego, Dallas, Boston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Buenos Aires, Wexford, New Orleans, Minnesota and Wolf Trap, as well as leading educational institutes and universities such as The Juilliard School, Indiana University, Boston University, and IVAI in Tel Aviv. His debut in New York was in a new production of L’heure espagnole and Gianni Schicchi at Juilliard Opera Center that was praised by The New York Times for its “witty, fast-paced staging and the director’s Felliniesque style.”

Known for creating innovative, visually striking new interpretations for standard operas as well as championing new works by contemporary composers, his work has been seen internationally in Europe, South and Central America, Israel, and the US. Recently he created critically acclaimed new productions of Semele (Seattle Opera) Lucia di Lammermoor (Seattle, Atlanta, Cleveland), La bohème (Seattle, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Atlanta), Lucrezia Borgia (Buenos Aires), Gianni Schicchi (Juilliard, IVAI Tel Aviv), L’heure espagnole (Juilliard), The Magic Flute (Cincinnati, Atlanta, Indiana University), Don Giovanni (Wolf Trap, Cincinnati), Die Fledermaus (Dallas, Kansas City), Falstaff (Wolf Trap, Des Moines), Rigoletto (Boston, Atlanta, Omaha), Madama Butterfly (Atlanta, Castleton Festival), Tosca (National Theatre Panama, Atlanta) and Dialogues of the Carmelites (IVAI Tel Aviv), among many others.

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His passion for producing new works by living composers was realized in the acclaimed European premiere of Kevin Puts’ Silent Night at Wexford Festival Opera in 2014. The production won two Irish Times Awards and will be remounted at The Glimmerglass Festival and Washington National Opera.
In 2015-16 he created a new production of Soldier Songs (David T. Little) as a part of the award-winning Discoveries Series in Atlanta in a production that traveled to San Diego Opera. He then went on to create an acclaimed new production of Dead Man Walking that marked his return to New Orleans Opera. This was his second collaboration with composer Jake Heggie following his new production of Three Decembers at Boston University.

Some of his upcoming projects include the world premiere of the new opera Dinner at Eight (Bolcom) at Minnesota Opera, followed by the European premiere at Wexford Festival, new productions of Maria de Buenos Aires and Der Fliegende Holländer in Atlanta, a new Giulio Cesare for the Israeli Opera (Acco Festival), a new Eugene Onegin at Kansas City and a revival of his acclaimed production of La bohème in Dallas.

Since taking the leadership in Atlanta he increased the operations of the company from 12 to 26 performances per season, while stabilizing the financials. Some of his noted achievements include launching the successful Discoveries Series, a program that presents new contemporary works and rarely done operas in alternative venues, creating the first young artist program in the company’s history, and doubling the company annual fundraising.

His work at The Atlanta Opera earned the company an international reputation by earning numerous awards and prizes, including a nomination for the 2016 International Opera Awards in London, the selection of the acclaimed Discoveries Series in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Best of 2015 list, and his recent nomination for the 2016 Atlanta Luminary awards.

As a stage director, he made his debut in Atlanta with a critically acclaimed Der Fliegende Holländer in 2009, a production which led to a series of memorable new co-productions with sister opera companies including The Magic Flute, Lucia di Lammermoor, Madama Butterfly, Rigoletto, La bohème, and Romeo and Juliet.

During his 7 years at the Metropolitan Opera, Tomer has directed revivals of Tosca and Carmen, and worked on a number of new productions, most notably La rondine, La traviata, La fille du régiment, Iphigénie en Tauride, and Manon. Tomer was born and raised in Israel, served as a medic in a combat unit in IDF, attended the Tel Aviv Open University and The Harvard Business School executive program.

TZ New Headshot 2013