Artists from the Knoxville Opera Company, under the direction of Maestro Brian Salesky performs a free shortened (English) version of Puccini’s opera La Bohème on Saturday, January 14th at 11 a.m. in the Reading Rotunda at the end of the Library’s Main Gallery.
This education/outreach production will be in costume and there will be a simple set. The performance, appropriate for all ages, will last 40 minutes and is sponsored by the Blount County Friends of the Library. Families are encouraged to attend and bring school-aged children.
The leading roles will feature Sonja Krenek as Mimi, Brittany Robinson as Musetta, Oswaldo Iraheta as Rodolfo, and Brian Salesky, Knoxville Opera Executive Director and Conductor as pianist and host.
La Bohème fascinates with unconventional snapshots of the everyday lives of four 17th-century Parisian artists while spotlighting the fated love story of Mimi and Rodolfo who find the “key” to an idyllic love in the lighting of a candle. Timeless themes of the joy of falling in love, the challenges of sustaining a loving relationship, and dealing with the illness and death of a loved one are set against the backdrop of the Bohemian lifestyle.
While the full-length original version of the opera is sung in Italian, this performance will be in English and will conclude with a Question and Answer session with the performers. Following is a summary of the story as it will be presented in abbreviated version:
- Scene One – Christmas Eve, 1830
The story opens with Mimi knocking on Rodolfo’s door. She has come to ask that her candle be relit. Mimi almost passes out, but Rodolfo takes care of her and relights her candle. Mimi realizes she’s lost her key, and in the process of searching for it, both characters’ candles blow out. They have a heart to heart talk, admit they are mutually attracted to each other, and decide to celebrate the holiday by going out to a café together.
- Scene Two – Later that evening
At the café Mime and Rodolfo meet his friend Marcello, who is soon joined by his former girlfriend Musetta. She attempts to woo Marcello by singing Musetta’s Waltz, perhaps the most popular and recognizable aria from “La Bohème.” Happily the two couples decide to leave and celebrate Christmas together.
- Scene Three – A Paris bar, February
Rodolfo visits Musetta and Marcello, who now work together in a bar, and tells Musetta that Mimi is very ill and they don’t have the financial resources to seek medical help. Rodolfo finds Mimi, who has overhead the conversation, and they decide they will stay together until spring.
- Scene Four – Autumn
Rodolfo and Mimi separate in the spring, but Mimi (and Musetta) return to Rodolfo’s apartment in the fall. Mimi has developed a terrible cough, and Musetta attempts to comfort her friend and keep her warm. While Musetta prays for Mimi, Rodolfo realizes that Mimi has died and cries out her name.
For a preview, visit YouTube to watch several complete live performance videos. Bring the whole family to provide exposure to opera by professional artists from the Knoxville Opera Company.
Open to the public, this performance is sponsored by Blount County Friends of the Library and Blount County Public Library, located at 508 N. Cusick Street, Maryville. For further information about library programs or services, call the library at 982-0981 or visit the Web site at www.blounttn.org/197.