Andrew Haji as Rodolfo and Hae Ji Chang as Mimi in "La Boheme"
The four roommates Schaunard, Colline, Rodolfo and Marcello (Sean Michael Plumb, Bradley Smoak, Andrew Haji and Anthony Clark Evans) were standouts in "La Boheme."
With youthful energy bringing Giacomo Puccini's masterpiece to vibrant life, "La Boheme" showcases strong, supple voices in Opera Theatre of St. Louis' production.
The company's latest version emphasizes the humor and the pathos when young folks live out their dreams and fall in love.
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If you have seen the landmark musical "Rent," you know this show. Composer-writer Jonathan Larsen fashioned characters and copied scenarios from the classic opera, which had premiered 100 years before.
One of the most performed and well-known operas, "La Boheme" focuses on poor young artists living in a garret in the Latin quarter of Paris in mid-19th century. Poet Rodolfo (Andrew Haji) and his painter roommate Marcello (Anthony Clark Evans) shiver from the cold, and use his manuscript for heat.
The resourceful poet meets Mimi (Hae Ji Chang), who asks him to light her candle. Mimi is ill with consumption, and her cough worsens throughout the melodrama. The pair work well together, showcasing their styles — he's witty and warm, with a rich voice, and she is willowy and graceful.
The show's other couple are expressive emotionally, too. Marcello's former flame Musetta (Lauren Michelle) is a sassy singer at Café Momus, and stunner Michelle is vivacious in the role.
While the principals are all in fine vocal form, it is the four roommates together who stand out. Philosopher Colline (Bradley Smoak) and musician Schaunard (Anthony Michael Plumb) live with the guys. The charming quartet is impressive in both singing and acting, earning laughs through their humor.
The outstanding St. Louis Symphony orchestra is conducted by Emanuele Andrizzi. Christopher Ackerland's lights convey the different seasons and moods, while set designer Riccardo Hernandez has innovatively conceived a train station grid as the main backdrop.
Opera Theatre demonstrated why this show is so popular with an utterly charming and zesty production.
- Who: Opera Theatre of St. Louis
- When: June 15 and 25
- Where: Loretto-Hilton Center (Webster University), 130 Edgar Road, St. Louis
- Information: www.experienceopera.org or 314-961-0644