The Cultural Center of the Philippines, in cooperation with the Society for Cultural Enrichment, Inc., presents Viva Voce Voice Lab’s re-staging of Giacomo Puccini’s well-loved opera La Boheme on November 11 and 12, 7:30pm, at the Tanghalang Ignacio B. Gimenez (CCP Blackbox Theater).
Based on French writer Henri Murger’s novel Scenes de la vie de Bohème, a collection of vignettes portraying the lives of young Bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s, La Boheme revolves around the unconventional lives of four young friends – a poet, a painter, a musician, and a philosopher – and how their lives change one freezing winter’s eve after a girl named Mimi comes knocking on their door.
The four-act opera by Puccini first premiered at the Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy, in 1896. The tragic love story is one of the most frequently staged operas and has been an inspiration to various cinematic and artistic interpretations such as Jonathan Larson’s Broadway rock-musical Rent.
La Boheme has been hailed by critics, marking “Puccini’s emergence as a fully mature and original composer.” The opera is known for some of the most memorable arias and musical scenes in opera, such as “Che gelida manina,” which is one of the best-known tenor arias, and “Quando m’en vo,” also known as “Musetta’s Waltz” and performed in the second act.
For the re-staging this November at CCP, Viva Voce Voice Lab classically-trained singers perform their minimalist interpretation of La Boheme, under the direction of Nelsito Gomez, musical direction by soprano Camille Lopez-Molina, and with Dr. Oliver Salonga on piano.
The latest production features the full opera, without the chorus numbers and with piano as the sole musical accompaniment. It will be staged in an intimate setting without the grandiose “trappings” of the opera, highlighting what really matters – the drama, the music, the singing.
“Our goal was to move away from the potentially inaccessible 1840s setting and find a more relatable period in which to set this story. Upon researching, we decided on 1960s Paris, the Post-war France when the country was booming with a newfound sense of optimism and energy. It was the time of New Wave cinema, existentialism, Yé-Yé music, and streets filled with youth – a very apt backdrop for the Bohemians of this opera,” said Gomez.
Bringing to life the characters are some of the familiar names in opera and musical theater in the Philippines: Nomher Nival stars as Rodolfo, Anna Migallos as Mimi, Carlo Falcis as Marcello, Iona Ventocilla-Borja as Musetta, Roby Malubay as Colline, Fritz Rivera as Schaunard, and Raymond Yadao as Alcindoro.
Through this simple production, the CCP hopes to further ignite an appreciation for opera in the country and attract not only the usual opera-goers but also those whose hearts and spirits may resonate with the ideals of Puccini’s young and brave bohemians, while nurturing the Filipino opera artists.
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