May 5 at the Keller Auditorium is opening night for a cherished staple of opera lovers the world over: Puccini’s ageless classic, La Bohème. Giacomo Puccini is immensely popular with audiences throughout the world. He’s well known for the soaring melodies, great sense of theater, and rich, atmospheric orchestrations of masterpieces such as Madame Butterfly, Tosca, Turandot, and, of course, La Bohème.
La Bohème is based on Henri Murger’s novel, Scenes from the Bohemian Life. Set in the frigid cold of a Paris winter in the 1830s, it follows the loves and fortunes of a small group of friends: the poet, Rodolfo, the seamstress Mimi, the painter Marcello, the musician Schaunard, the philosopher Colline and the coquette, Musetta.
Portland Opera’s production features the debut of Vanessa Isiguen, credited for her “enormous skill and sly charm,” as Mimi; former Portland Opera Resident Artist Jennifer Forni (Micaëla, Carmen, 2015 and Tatiana, Eugene Onegin, 2016) as Musetta; the American debut of the exciting Italian tenor Giordano Lucá as Rodolfo; and, also making his Portland Opera debut, the “eloquent” and “commanding” Will Liverman as Marcello.
Esteemed Music Director George Manahan will conduct Puccini’s lush and intricate score. His work on the podium conducting this piece has been described as “full of fire.” Among Manahan’s television credits is the New York City Opera’s performance of La Bohème which was broadcast on PBS in 2000.
Making her directorial debut with Portland Opera is Kathleen Belcher, a regular at The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Los Angeles Opera. The New York Times praises her for “pitch-perfect interpretation,” San Francisco Classical Voice hails her direction as “exceptional,” and San Francisco Chronicle calls her work “studded with imaginative and telling details.”