John Caird Directs a NEW Bohème
(l–r) Vuyani Mlinde as Colline, Michael Sumuel as Schaunard, Dimitri Pittas as Rodolfo and Joshua Hopkins as Marcello in the Canadian Opera Company/Houston Grand Opera (HGO)/San Francisco Opera co-production of La Bohème, 2012, HGO. Photo: Felix Sanchez
“In reality, the original works were neither a novel nor a play, but rather vignettes, glimpses into the lives of the bohemian lifestyle in Paris’s Latin Quarter.” Murger vividly captured the bohemians’ unconventional attitude towards freedom, pleasure and love, as well as their complete commitment to art, but he also reminded his readers of the harsh realities of their lives. At La Bohème’s core is the heartbreaking tragedy of Mimì, an ailing seamstress and her lover Rodolfo. But Caird ingeniously uses the four young artists: Marcello, a painter; Rodolfo, a poet; Schaunard, a musician; and Colline, a philosopher; to propel the story, each employing their particular talent. “All four young men possess wit and talent but they aren't as good at their relationships as they are at their art. Rodolfo knows he must lose Mimì and Marcello runs hot and cold with Musetta, but by the end of the
story we know that both men will move on and certainly love again.” “Rather than relationships, their art is what is paramount to them – art is their true passion. No matter what is happening around them, Rodolfo pauses to write down a line of verse and Marcello feverishly paints and sketches. Like all good artists, they don’t want a moment to slip by without, in some way, recording it.” Caird has set this production in the 19th century, inspired by what was happening in Paris at the time. “We drew great inspiration from the great painter Toulouse-Lautrec who was capturing all aspects of street life, feeding the desire for the wealthy classes to peer into the seamier side of life.” The set design revolves around a mosaic of canvases, painted by Marcello, that frame the action within the opera’s changing Parisian locales. Some paintings remain fixed, some turn in place to create scene changes, and others fly in to enhance the artistic effect. Puccini’s ability to create compelling characters and express larger-than-life emotions through unforgettable melodies is what makes La Bohème a perpetual favourite of audiences. “A great opera like Bohème is a beautifully crafted construction of melodies and musical dialogue – and Puccini’s craftsmanship is quite astonishing. As always, it will be an unalloyed pleasure to share a rehearsal room with his music. Having said that, my own work is only ever as good as the cast I am working with, and from whom I draw my own inspiration. In this respect I am being doubly rewarded – with two superb casts, both brimming over with youthful energy and enthusiasm.” n Suzanne Vanstone is former Senior Communications Manager, Editorial at the Canadian Opera Company
FOR FURTHER INSIGHT INTO LA BOHÈME, PLEASE READ CANVASES COME ALIVE WITH SET AND COSTUME DESIGNER DAVID FARLEY, BY SUZANNE VANSTONE, AVAILABLE IN THE FALL ISSUE OF PRELUDE ONLINE AT COC.CA/PUBLICATIONS.
Canadian Opera Company 2013/2014 Season