La Bohème: Show Preview


Artistic Director Dale Johnson chooses repertoire, performers, conductors, directors, designers, and leads all aspects of artistic planning.

I couldn’t be more excited for our final opera of the season, Puccini’s beloved La Bohème. Whether you are a seasoned operagoer or someone new to opera, La Bohème is a perfect choice. When I was in college, the Metropolitan Opera on tour brought an old production of La Bohème to Cleveland. I was an instrumentalist and previously had no exposure to opera. The production was in a huge civic auditorium that was even bigger than Northrop before the renovation. I was in the last row, so the stage looked like a postage stamp. The orchestra played superbly, and Pavarotti, who was singing Rodolfo, was amazing. It was a revelation for me, to hear that gorgeous music with remarkable voices soaring over the orchestra pit. Just like it was for me, La Bohème is a great first opera for anyone. The music is beautiful and accessible. The opera is fast paced and short and I think it reminds all of us of when we first fell in love.

La Bohème is set in the 1840s Latin Quarter in Paris. This was a time of artistic freedom. Art was no longer just for “art’s sake,” but had become a political tool to criticize the society that had failed in its attempts at the “égalité” hoped for during the French Revolution. The colorful characters in this opera, all based on real people, formed the core of a social movement that led to the 1848 revolution and the end of the French monarchy. But in more human terms, this opera is all about the ecstasy and the ache of first love, seen through golden memories. Puccini’s amazing melodic compositional style brings to mind our own recollections of young love. This traditional production highlights the relationship between the young Bohemians as they search for solace and the meaning in their art and in one another.

Puccini’s perfect opera is well served with this vibrant cast, staring soprano superstar Nicole Cabell as Mimì. Art and love have the power to transform our worlds, and La Bohème has both. I hope you can join us in May for this brilliant production!


Dale Johnson

Artistic Director


Join the Conversation on Facebook and Twitter