Mon | Aug 21, 2017

La Bohème encore on Sunday

Published:Friday | July 22, 2016 | 7:00 AM
Vittorio Grigolo as Rodolfo (left) and Kristine Opolais as Mimi in the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD broadcast of Puccini’s La Boheme on April 5, 2014.

Audiences in Jamaica were first treated to La Boheme during the Met Opera's 2013- 14 Live in HD season. Puccini's masterpiece returns to Palace Cineplex, for a single encore performance, this Sunday, July 24, at 11:30 a.m.

Acclaimed as the world's most popular opera, La Boheme showcases the passionate, timeless, and indelible story of love among young artists in Paris. La Bohème had its world premiere at the Teatro Regio, Turin, Italy, in 1896. Over the years, it is said to have retained its amazing ability to make a powerful first impression, while simultaneously unveiling delightful surprises even after several hearings and viewings.

A celebrity during his own lifetime, Giacomo Puccini is still widely regarded today, with his works ranking highly in the repertory of the world's leading opera companies. His librettists for La Boheme, Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, also teamed with Puccini on his two other most enduringly successful operas, Tosca and Madama Butterfly.

Set in Paris, circa 1830, the plot is not random and pointedly reflects the issues and concerns of a particular time and place. After the dislocation of revolution and war, French artists had lost their traditional support base of aristocracy and Church and were desperate for new sources of income.

The emerging bourgeoisie took up the burden of patronising artists and earned their contempt in return. 

Ideology clash

The story focuses on the self-conscious youth at odds with mainstream society, feeling themselves morally superior to the rules of the bourgeoise (specifically regarding sexual more) and expressing their independence with affectations of speech and dress.

The bohemian ambience of this opera is clearly recognisable in any modern urban centre and La Bohème captures this ethos in its earliest days.

Lyrical and touchingly beautiful, the score of La Bohème exerts a uniquely emotional pull. The most striking melodies in the score are built gradually, with small intervals between the notes that carry the listener with them on their lyrical path. This is in direct contrast to the grand leaps and dives used for emotional effect in earlier operas. La Bohème's melodic structure perfectly captures the "small people" (as Puccini called them) of the drama and the details of everyday life.

La Bohème had its Met premiere while the company was on tour in Los Angeles (the same city where it had its American premiere) in 1900. The current production by Franco Zeffirelli was unveiled in 1981 with an impressive cast that included Teresa Stratas, Jose Carreras, Renata Scotto, Richard Stilwell and James Morris, with James Levine conducting. La Bohème was presented at the Met in 58 consecutive seasons after its first appearance and has been performed in all but nine seasons since 1900.

Tickets are on sale for the Met Summer Encores at participating cinema box offices and via the Web at www.palaceamusement.com with a Palace Card or any major credit card.