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© PETER HARRISON FOR NASHVILLE OPERA

Set design for Act II. Square in Latin Quarter outside Momus Café

“It’s the same characters and music and piece and story,” Hoomes said, “but we’re excited the visual will be brand new and something people have never seen.” He is hoping the new sets will add feeling and depth to La Bohème, which he calls “one of my favorite pieces.” Hoomes also calls it the perfect date-night opera, as it a lush romance story—until the end, of course, when “consumption” kills protagonist Mimi. “It starts out romantic comedy, and it ends somewhat tragically. It’s a lot like real life—it’s going along fine and suddenly, someone you love, something tragic happens. It’s very real.”

© PETER HARRISON FOR NASHVILLE OPERA

In all, there are six people in the cast, four males and two females, and Hoomes says audiences get invested in all of them, not just Rodolfo and Mimi, whose romance is at the center of the opera. “It’s more of an ensemble show. All these characters play off each other. You get to know all these people and see them interact. You actually care about them.”

Set design for Act III. Paris City Gates

Having said that, Hoomes is excited about scoring young international opera star Noah Stewart, who grew up in Harlem, went to the prestigious Juilliard School in Manhattan, and launched his international performance career from there. While Stewart chose a career in a classic genre, he presents as a fresh, modern star. “He has a great website, and he’s a movie star-looking kid,” Hoomes said.

Playing opposite Stewart is soprano Danielle Pastin, the consummate Mimi. In fact, Pastin will have played that role—in this year alone—in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, Winnipeg, Canada, and at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It will be the first Nashville Opera appearance for both Pastin and Stewart, whose visual appeal matches their aural appeal. “This cast looks more like Friends or another TV show, very handsome and Hollywood looking,” Hoomes said. “If there’s ever a fantastic date-night opera, this is it,” he continued. “It’s very touching, very easy to understand, sung in Italian and supertitled in English. This is the opera a lot of people start with.”

The Nashville Opera presents La Bohème October 9 and 11 in Andrew Jackson Hall at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. For more information visit www.nashvilleopera.org.

October 2014 Nashville Arts Magazine  
October 2014 Nashville Arts Magazine  
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