On Saturday, May 6, 7:30 p.m. at the Helena Civic Center, the Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale and nine soloists perform Puccini’s heart-breaking story of La Bohème.
La Bohème, the passionate, timeless, and indelible story of love among young artists in Paris, can stake its claim as the world’s most popular opera. “It is one of the best stories and music to experience for one’s first opera,” explains Music Director Allan R. Scott. “And it remains one of the most popular works in all of music.” At first glance, La Bohème is the definitive depiction of the joys and sorrows of love and loss; on closer inspection, it reveals the deep emotional significance hidden in the trivial things – a bonnet, an old overcoat, a chance meeting with a neighbor – that make up our everyday lives.
A four-act tragedy, the story delves into 1830s Paris where a group of struggling artists live in destitute slum conditions, yet are determined to celebrate love in all its simple glory. When Rodolfo helps his pretty neighbor Mimí to find her keys in the dark, their hands touch, and attraction flares within them. The story then moves on over the course of a few months, where Mimí is found to be terminally ill from consumption; despite having broken up, Rodolfo cares for her deeply, and is heartbroken to hear that she is dying. He and his friends care for her as she slips away in his arms.
La Bohème (the opera that was the inspiration for the award-winning musical Rent) is an unforgettable blend of riveting theater and achingly beautiful music. The story is the tale of six impoverished young bohemian artists in Paris, surviving only on laughter, their friendship, and the promise of love. The four 30-40 minute acts are performed in concert format in Italian with English subtitles, and features some nationally-noted soloists. The romantic leads are played by Soprano Saundra DeAthos (Mimí) and her real-life husband, Metropolitan Opera Tenor Harold Gray Meers (Rodolfo) – both of who performed the lead roles in the Helena Symphony’s fully-staged production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly in 2011. The performance also features other critically-acclaimed soloists, including Soprano Diana McVey as Musetta, Baritone Ron Loyd as Marcello, Baritone Brandon Hendrickson as Schunard, and Bass Sean Cooper as Colline. All combined, these soloists have performed in some of the greatest opera houses throughout the world.
“Puccini’s greatest gift was his ability to invent liquid, melting melodies with tender lyricism, combined with his genius of colorful orchestrations, intense emotion, and theatrical vocal lines that contribute to the stories he composed,” explains Maestro Scott, who has conducted this opera over a dozen times. “Heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure, this time-honored story is one of the most popular romances of all time.”
Tickets can be purchased on line at helenasymphony.org, by calling the Symphony Box Office (406.442.1860), or in person at the Symphony Box Office located on the corner of Broadway and the Walking Mall in the Livestock Building (2 N. Last Chance Gulch, Suite 1) between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Single concert ticket prices range from $52 to $12. Season tickets are also on sale for the 2017-2018 Season at helenasymphony.org or 406.442.1860.