Watch and Listen: Preview of Opera Philadelphia's La Bohème, Live from the WRTI Performance Studio

May 1, 2019

Four days before opening night, cast members of Opera Philadelphia's production of Puccini's La Bohème gave us a preview of the romantic blockbuster—which tells the story of young Bohemians living in Paris. WRTI's Susan Lewis, host.

Called "An absolute success, full of fine singing and acting, and eye-filling stage direction" by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Opera Philadelphia's La Bohème has five performances from Friday, April 26th through Sunday, May 5th at the Academy of Music

The world premiere of the opera was conducted by Arturo Toscanini in Turin, Italy in 1896. This popular revival, led by Opera Philadelphia's Music Director Corrado Rovaris, draws its inspiration from masterpieces from the treasured collections of the Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

WRTI Program:

Act I: entrance of Schaunard to just before the entrance of Benoit (Marcello, Rodolfo, Schaunard, Colline)  This moment from Act I sets up the friendships and lifestyle of the community. 

Act II: "Quando m'en vo" (Musetta) One of the most famous moments in the opera, Musetta uses this waltz to make her ex-lover Marcello jealous by seducing the men around her and generally creating a scene at Café Momus on Christmas Eve night.

Act III: "Donde lieta" (Mimì)  Weak and ill, Mimì and Rodolfo decide to end their relationship. But for Mimì, it's the end of her dreams of a happier life as well.

Act IV: Duet, "O Mimì tu più non torni" (Marcello, Rodolfo)  Come springtime, our bachelors Rodolfo and Marcello secretly grieve the loss of their relationships with Mimì and Musetta.

Act IV: Coat Aria, "Vecchia zimarra" (Colline)  Mimì arrives at the garret with only a few hours left to live. 

In Opera Philadelphia's production at the Academy of Music, vivid projections of some of the world's most renowned Impressionist art from the turn of the 20th century—including works from Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Cassat—set the stage, with costumes and other design elements influenced by paintings and drawings from the collections at the Barnes and The Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

WRTI's Susan Lewis with soloists from Opera Philadephia's La Boheme.

ARTISTS

Tenor Evan LeRoy Johnson (Rodolfo) · Evan LeRoy Johnson is a tenor from Pine Island, Minnesota, who trained in Philadelphia at the Curtis Institute of Music. He made his Opera Philadelphia debut as Don José in Carmen in the spring of 2018, which earned him praise as an "ardently full voice tenor" (Philadelphia Magazine). Johnson has also performed at Curtis Opera Theatre, Opernhaus Zurich, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and Opera Frakfurt. He performs the role of Rodolfo in Opera Philadelphia's La bohème.

Soprano Vanessa Vasquez (Mimì) · Vanessa Vasquez is a soprano from Scottsdale, Arizona, and recently completed a four-year residency in Philadelphia at the Academy of Vocal Arts. She is the recipient of a 2017 Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation, and winner of the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Vasquez has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Des Moines Metro Opera, and Arizona Opera, and is making her Opera Philadelphia debut as Mimì in La bohème. 

Baritone Troy Cook (Marcello) · Troy Cook is a baritone from Eminence, Kentucky. He has performed with the Royal Opera Covent Garden, Minnesota Opera, Washington National Opera, the Metropolitan Opera and many more. He has performed numerous times with Opera Philadelphia, performing in Festival O17's Elizabeth Cree, and O18's Lucia di Lammermoor. This performance of La bohème marks his third in the role of Marcello with Opera Philadelphia.

Soprano Ashley Marie Robillard (Musetta) · Ashley Marie Robillard is a soprano from Norton, Massachusetts, and an Emerging Artist with Opera Philadelphia. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Music at the Curtis Institute of Music. Ashley made her professional debut singing the role of Papagena in Opera Philadelphia's production of The Magic Flute. This summer she will be appearing at Wolf Trap Opera.

Baritone Will Liverman (Schaunard) · Will Liverman is a baritone from Chicago, Illinois, and studied at The Julliard School. Among other honors, he was a grand finalist in the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and received the Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Music Foundation. Liverman has performed with Dallas Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Santa Fe Opera. He made his Opera Philadelphia Debut as Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker's YARDBIRD in 2015.

Bass Peixin Chen (Colline) · Peixin Chen is a bass from Hulunbeier, Inner Mongolia, China. He is a graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio and has performed with Houston Symphony, Santa Fe Opera, Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, and will soon make his European debut at Festival d'Aix en Provence. He appeared in Opera Philadelphia's The Magic Flute during Festival O17 and returns at Colline in La bohème.

Grant Loehnig (piano) · Grant Loehnig is Head of Music Staff at Opera Philadelphia and Wolf Trap Opera, where he is also Music Director of the Studio young artist program. He has worked as music staff at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Studies faculty at Rice University in Houston, and currently serves on the faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, a Master of Music in vocal accompanying from Manhattan School of Music and is a graduate of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Music Academy of the West, and San Francisco Opera's Merola Program.