Pittsburgh Opera presents one of the world’s most beloved operas, LA BOHÈME


photo by David Bachman.

Pittsburgh, PA… Pittsburgh Opera continues its 75th anniversary season with one of the world’s most beloved operas, Puccini’s LA BOHÈME. On stage at the Benedum Center March 29 – April 6, this story of Bohemian friends struggling through poverty and illness in 1830s Paris is cherished for its romantic, yet tragic story, and soaring music that includes many familiar melodies. A roster of outstanding singers leads the production, anchored by a marvelous set designed by Tony Award-winner Michael Yeargan (for Light in the Piazza, 2005).

LA BOHÈME brings the role and company debut of Leah Crocetto as Mimí; the 2010 Metropolitan National Council Auditions Grand Finals winner, she has been effusively praised for her “voice of size, beauty, and agility” (Chicago Tribune) and “gorgeous, well-supported sound” (San Francisco Chronicle). Due to scheduling issues, the role of Rodolfo will be shared by David Lomelí (Lucia di Lammermoor, 2011) and Eric Barry, in a company debut. (Mr. Lomelí appears March 29, April 1 and 4; Mr. Barry appears in the April 3 Student Matinee and April 6.) Pittsburgh Opera also welcomes Troy Cook, in his company debut as Marcello; Pittsburgher Sari Gruber (Don Giovanni, 2012) returns as Musetta, bringing “comedic grace and vulnerability to the role, as well as glorious vocal talent” (Austin Chronicle). Pittsburghers in the cast also include Kevin Glavin (The Barber of Seville, 2010) in a reprise of his hilarious dual role of Benoit/Alcindoro, and Dimitrie Lazich, who debuts as Schaunard. Resident Artist Phillip Gay appears as Colline.

Music Director Antony Walker returns to conduct the Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Tomer Zvulun (debut) and Helena Binder (Fidelio, 2005) are co-directors on LA BOHÈME. Resident Artist George Cederquist is assistant director.

Pittsburgh Opera’s LA BOHÈME also brings the annual Student Matinee on Thursday, April 3 at the Benedum Center. In this performance, Resident Artists take lead roles and perform with Maestro Walker and the orchestra for about 2800 school children from around the region. Jasmine Muhammad appears as Mimí and Meredith Lustig appears as Musetta, alongside Eric Barry (Rodolfo), Kevin Glavin (Benoit/Alcindoro), Phillip Gay (Colline) and Dimitrie Lazich (Schaunard) from the mainstage cast. Resident Artist George Cederquist is stage director for the Student Matinee.

Tickets to LA BOHÈME start at $12, with all performances at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, 7th Street and Penn Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh. For additional information, videos, photos, musical samples, cast biographies, and the full story of LA BOHÈME, visit www.pittsburghopera.org. To purchase tickets, call 412-456-6666 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org.

Facts about the opera

LA BOHÈME was conducted at its premiere by a young Arturo Toscanini; he also conducted it 50 years later in a recording with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. It is the only recording of a Puccini opera by the original conductor.

In 1957, a missing act for LA BOHÈME was found among librettist Luigi Illica’s belongings. Between the second and third acts, Musetta’s patron Alcindoro has cut her off and moved her furnishings into the courtyard to be sold. The Bohemians throw a party in the courtyard, and Musetta introduces Mimí to a viscount there. Rodolfo
becomes jealous when Mimì dances with the man, explaining Rodolfo’s Act 3 remarks about Mimì’s flirtatiousness, and Mimì’s dismay at Rodolfo’s jealousness.

Modern interpretations of LA BOHÈME include Baz Luhrmann’s 1990 Tony Award-winning Broadway show, set in 1957; Jonathan Larson’s 1996 Broadway smash hit RENT, in which the characters deal with AIDS; and Robin Norton-Hale’s 2009 production, set in modern-day London and taking place in the very pub where the performances were given, using audience members as extras for the Café scene.

The story, in brief
In their Latin Quarter garret in Paris, the near-destitute painter Marcello and poet Rodolfo try to keep warm on Christmas Eve by burning pages from Rodolfo’s latest drama. Their roommates Colline, a philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician, bring food, fuel, and money. When the landlord Benoit comes to collect the rent, they ply him with wine, then throw him out. As his friends leave for the Café Momus, Rodolfo remains behind to write. A pretty neighbor, Mimì, knocks at the door: her candle has gone out on the stairway. Rodolfo relights it, but Mimì then realizes she has lost her key. In the confusion, both candles are blown out. As they search for the key in the dark, their hands meet. They instantly fall in love.  Expressing their joy in finding each other, Mimì and Rodolfo embrace and join Rodolfo’s friends at the Café.

Marcello’s former sweetheart Musetta makes a noisy entrance at the café on the arm of the elderly but wealthy Alcindoro. Trying to regain Marcello’s attention, she sings about her popularity. Sending Alcindoro off on an errand, she falls into Marcello’s arms and tells the waiter to charge everything to Alcindoro.

At dawn by a tavern on the snowy outskirts of Paris, Mimì searches for the place where Marcello and Musetta now live. When the painter emerges, she tells him of her distress over Rodolfo’s incessant jealousy, and says she believes it’s best that they part. When Rodolfo appears, Mimì hides, though Marcello thinks she has gone. The poet tells Marcello that he wants to separate from Mimì, citing her fickleness. Pressed for the real reason, he breaks down, saying that her illness will only grow worse in the poverty they share; he’s desperately afraid she will die. Overcome with tears, Mimì comes forward to bid her lover farewell. While Mimì and Rodolfo recall past happiness, Musetta quarrels with Marcello, who has caught her flirting. The painter and his mistress part, hurling insults at each other, but Mimì and Rodolfo decide to remain together until spring.

Later, both of them separated from their sweethearts, Rodolfo and Marcello lament their loneliness. Colline and Schaunard bring a meager meal. To lighten their spirits, the four stage a dance, when suddenly Musetta bursts in to tell them that Mimì is outside, too weak to come in. Rodolfo carries her in, while Musetta asks Marcello to sell her earrings for medicine and Colline goes off to pawn his overcoat. Left alone, Mimì and Rodolfo recall their first meeting and their happy days, but she is seized with violent coughing. The others return and Mimì drifts into unconsciousness. When Rodolfo at last realizes that she is dead, he throws himself despairingly on her body, calling her name.

Tickets to LA BOHÈME start at $12, with all performances at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts, 7th Street and Penn Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh. For additional information, videos, photos, musical samples, cast biographies, and the full story of LA BOHÈME, visit www.pittsburghopera.org. To purchase tickets, call 412-456-6666 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org.

The 2013-14 Pittsburgh Opera season is generously supported by PNC.
Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield is the production sponsor.

American Eagle Outfitters is the Friday Night Sponsor.
Larrimor’s is our 75th anniversary partner during LA BOHÈME.


Cast and Artistic Team (abbreviated list; cast is listed in order of vocal appearance)

Marcello                                                    Troy Cook +

Rodolfo                                                     David Lomelì (3/29; 4/1, 4/4)

Eric Barry (4/3, 4/6)

Colline                                                       Phillip Gay *

Schaunard                                                Dimitrie Lazich +

Benoit                                                       Kevin Glavin **

Parpignol                                                  Christopher Toeller

Alcindoro                                                  Kevin Glavin **

Musetta                                                     Sari Gruber

Conductor                                                 Antony Walker

Co-Directors                                             Tomer Zvulun +
Helena Binder

Set Designer                                             Michael Yeargan

Costume Designer                                   Martin Pakledinaz #

Lighting Designer                                      Andrew Ostrowski

Asst. Conductor                                        Glenn Lewis

Chorus Master                                          Mark Trawka

Associate Coach/Pianist                          James Lesniak

Hair & Makeup Designer                          James Geier


LA BOHÈME set is owned by Pittsburgh Opera; costumes from Seattle Opera.

+    Pittsburgh Opera debut

*     Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist

**   Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni
#    Deceased


Tickets and Group Discounts

Tickets for all performances of LA BOHÈME start at $12. Group discounts are available. For tickets, call (412) 456-6666 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org. For discounted group tickets (6 or more), contact Randy Adams at 412-281-0912, x 213.

Related Events

Opera Up Close: LA BOHÈME

Sunday, March 16 – 2:00 p.m.

George R. White Opera Studio, Pittsburgh Opera Headquarters (2425 Liberty Ave.)

Opera Up Close: LA BOHÈME includes an in-depth musical analysis of the opera, with Maestro Walker and other directors and artists from the production. Admission is $5; free to members of FRIENDS of Pittsburgh Opera. For more information, call (412) 281-0912 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Thursday, March 20 – 5:30 p.m.
Larrimor’s Downtown, One PNC Plaza, 249 Fifth Ave.

Pittsburgh Opera and Larrimor’s celebrate their 75th anniversaries together in this fun and fashionable event. Highlights include French-inspired cocktails and foods; palm readers, fortune-tellers, can-can dancers reminiscent of Moulin Rouge, and music from La bohème by Pittsburgh Opera’s Resident Artists. Admission is free but RSVP is required: call Katie Gaines at 412-281-0912, ext. 225 or e-mail kgaines@pittsburghopera.org. For more information, visit www.pittsburghopera.org.


LA BOHÈME Previews on WQED-FM 89.3 and WQED.ORG

Saturday, March 22 – 12:30 p.m.; Friday, March 28 – 7:00 p.m.

Hosted by WQED’s Stephen Baum and Anna Singer, and broadcast over the airwaves as well as the WQED website, the LA BOHÈME preview gives listeners an engaging introduction to the singers, music and story of the opera. For more information, visit www.pittsburghopera.org.


FRIENDS of Pittsburgh Opera South Hills Chapter event
Sunday, March 23 – 4:00 p.m.

Private Home in the South Hills

Join FRIENDS of Pittsburgh Opera for a talk entitled “From the Floor to the Flyrail: Secrets of Scenery” given by Pittsburgh Opera Head Carpenter Sean West, at the home of South Hills Chapter members. Admission is free; a donation of hors d’oeuvres or wine is welcome. RSVP by March 21 at 412-563-3808. Directions to the home will be given at RSVP. For more information, call Marilyn Egan at (412) 281-0912, ext. 242 or visit www.pittsburghopera.org.

Pre-Opera Talks

Benedum Center Main Floor

Ticketholders are invited to attend a Pre-Opera Talk on LA BOHÈME one hour before each performance’s curtain in the Orchestra Section (Main Floor) of the Benedum Center. Learn about the composer and the story of the opera. Free to all ticketholders.


Audio Description: LA BOHÈME
Tuesday, April 1

Benedum Center Main Floor

Ticketholders with visual impairments are invited to use Pittsburgh Opera’s Audio Commentary service at our Tuesday performances. Trained volunteers describe the scenery, costumes, and stage action via headphones. Those wishing to use Audio Description should reserve seats to the Tuesday, April 1 performance: contact Randy Adams at 412-281-0912, ext. 213 or groups@pittsburghopera.org. Braille and large-print opera programs are also available in the Benedum Grand Lobby.


Meet the Artists of LA BOHÈME

Tuesday, April 1

Immediately following the opera, in the Benedum Lower Lobby

Ticketholders for the Tuesday, April 1 performance of LA BOHÈME are invited to gather in the Benedum Lower Lobby immediately following the performance for interviews with General Director Christopher Hahn and the stars of the opera. This event is free to all Tuesday performance ticketholders.

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