La Bohème

Approximate Running Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes, with 2 intermissions

In Italian with English captions

Finding the Right Singers for: La Bohème

Printable Version

By Speight Jenkins

Speight Jenkins

To plan to do Bohème does not take a lot of thought. What is critical is to have the right singers. In 1998 I had sought to present Nuccia Focile as Mimì. She had rehearsed the whole opera and had sung a marvelous dress rehearsal. Ms. Focile combines the qualities necessary for Mimì of fragility, sweetness and full-bodied sound. For some time she and her husband, the distinguished tenor Paul Charles Clarke, had wanted to have a baby. After the dress rehearsal there was an indication that things were not going right, and I immediately released her from any obligation to us. This still meant, however, that Seattle had not heard or seen her Mimì. Since I don’t bring any opera back until seven years have elapsed, it meant that quite a time would pass before we could hear her Mimì.

The stars came together for this May. I had to find the right Rodolfo as well, and in our Italian-Australian, Rosario La Spina I found the voice that I believe will be great for the part and a good complement to Ms. Focile.

The conductor is also, of course, critical, and in Vjekoslav Sutej we have a maestro who feels Puccini to his fingertips. After the wonderful work he did with Madama Butterfly at Seattle Opera in 2002, I asked him to conduct both La Bohème and Tosca for us. There are many conductors who can conduct Puccini adequately, but there are few who go to the heart of the matter—making the music sing, drawing great performances from the singers and making the audience cry—or if not cry at least be moved over the music. Puccini himself is reputed to have cried when he wrote the famous chord signifying that Mimì was dead; we can strive for no less in any performance we present of La Bohème.

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