"La Boheme", you say? Do you recognize the name? Perhaps. Well, you probably know that "La Boheme" is an opera. Ever see/hear it? Perhaps not.
At this Asheville Bed and Breakfast, I'm happy to encourage you to experience this one in Asheville. You can see it next weekend, April 1st and 2nd at the Diana Wortham Theater at 7pm in Downtown Asheville. And it's performed by Asheville Lyric Opera and you'll enjoy it.
'Why do you think I'll enjoy opera when I've never seen one', you say? That's easy! It's got a story that's improbable and music and vocals that will make you laugh and make you cry. What does that sound like? A Broadway musical? A comic book story-line? Welcome to the wonderful world of opera...yes, I'm serious!
This opera, "La Boheme" was written by the Italian Giacomo Puccini and premiered in Turin, Italy in February, 1896. The story is about some young people living in Paris in the artists' district in the 1830s. It involves celebrations and joy, then sadness and, since this is about Parisians, written by an Italian and sung in Italian, love is a major player.
One thing that you can anticipate when you go to an opera, especially an Italian opera, love will be involved. The love in opera may come to a happy end...occasionally. But more often, it will take lovers to the heights of ecstasy, then fate will deal the lovers a fatal blow. Plots involve mistaken identity, illness, miscommunication, poverty, sometimes war...sound corny? Maybe. But also think about what Shakespeare's plots were like. Great art in the form of words and music is pretty universal really. It reflects human experience, but is often exaggerated to make its point.
The music of "La Boheme" is considered by many to be Puccini's finest score. The music expresses gaiety and comic moments as well as pathos which the listener cannot fail to understand. You'll probably recognize a number of the musical passages, especially if you happened across Luciano Pavarotti on TV or recordings. Rodolfo, the male lead character in "La Boheme", was a role among many played by Pavarotti in opera houses around the world.
I have found that, in general, opera gets "a bad wrap". It is true that many opera plots are convoluted and improbable. And even a dyed-in-the-wool opera fan would admit that certain operas would qualify as "an acquired taste"! But it's not uncommon to hear people say, "Oh, I don't like opera. All those overweight people wearing horns on their head, shouting at the top of their lungs..." If you then go on to the next question, "Have you ever seen an opera?", the answer is often, "Well no, not actually. But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like it."
Costumes and staging also contribute to the multi-faceted experience that is opera. Whether minimized to make you focus on the music, or opulent to create a battle or a gala ball, staging can often be a 'star', too. Ever see "Cats" or "Lion King"? And opera is no exception.
So far, with "La Boheme" we have 1. a complex plot, somewhat improbable but with comic and tragic moments, 2. music that is the among the finest ever created for opera, 3. beautiful singing, 4. staging and costumes... and all just a few minutes away from the Montford District where our Asheville bed and breakfast is located. Yes, do yourself a favor and make it a point to see this opera next weekend on April 1st or 2nd. We hope you will!