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VA Opera: "LA BOHEME" -- 5/9 & 5/11

April 14, 2003
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

For general information about tickets, seating, parking, etc., for performances and events happening at the Center for the Arts, please contact the ticket office directly at 703-993-2787.

Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Guilio Ricordi
Performed in Italian with English Digitext SuperTitles

-Puccini's timeless classic returns to the Center for the Arts stage

-Exciting Company debuts

-Bernard Uzan returns to direct

-Maestro Dan Saunders conducts

FAIRFAX, VIRIGINIA, APRIL 15, 2003—The 2002-2003 Virginia Opera season, at George Mason University in Fairfax, concludes with Puccini's La Bohème - a tale of ill-fated love set against the carefree and reckless lifestyle of 19th Century bohemian Paris. Encompassing romance, drama, and unforgettable music, La Bohème has been called 'the world's most popular opera' by The New York Times, and is currently experiencing a flurry of traditional and new interpretations on Broadway and national opera stages. This traditional staging is the only production of La Bohème to be produced in the Commonwealth during 2003. Performances are Friday, May 9 at 8PM and Sunday, May 11 at 2PM. A pre-performance discussion – free to ticket holders – is held on the Grand Tier of the Concert Hall 45-minutes prior to each curtain.

Puccini's music moves decisively from revelry to romance as it inexorably carries the story toward its tragic conclusion. Rodolfo, the poet; Marcello, the painter; Colline, the philosopher; and Schaunard, the musician, are the original starving artists, sharing an attic apartment in Paris. When Rodolfo falls for the beautiful but ailing Mimì, their tragic love affair becomes an emotional center, deepening the loves, ambitions, and friendships of the entire group.

This Virginia Opera production brings a talented young cast and fresh, inventive staging to this operatic tour-de-force. Tenor Jonathan Boyd debuts as Rodolfo, after performing recently at San Francisco Opera and The Kennedy Center. Stunning soprano Karen Driscoll makes her debut as Mimì. Driscoll has performed the same role at Baltimore Opera and at L'Opera de Montreal under the direction of Bernard Uzan. Baritone Grant Youngblood returns to the Virginia Opera stage as Marcello. Mr. Youngblood was lauded for his dazzling performance of Figaro in Virginia Opera's 2002 production of The Barber of Seville. Created by Virginia Opera’s Artistic Director, Peter Mark and internationally acclaimed stage director Bernard Uzan (Andrea Chénier/2003, La Traviata/2001), the production is sung in Italian with English Super Titles projected above the stage. Associate Conductor Dan Saunders conducts all performances.

Puccini's marvelous sense of theater give his operas lasting appeal. His melodies are intensely emotional; he used the orchestra to reinforce the vocal melody and to suggest mood. After 1896, Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) found himself wealthy and world-famous from the enormous success of La Bohème. Tosca (1900) and Madame Butterfly (1904) were also very popular; yet he died before finishing his last opera, Turandot, which was completed by a friend.

"For me," comments conductor Dan Saunders, "the culmination of this masterwork is in the Act III quartet with each of the four characters sharing with us their love and pain."

Audiences have cherished La Bohème for centuries. Perhaps because, speculates Saunders, "the audience sees redemption in the gallant efforts of Musetta, Marcello and Colline to make Mimi’s departure a little more comfortable -- maybe this life is not about flesh and blood, but about acts of kindness and love."

Tickets for VIRGINIA OPERA’S LA BOHEME are $78, $64, $42. Charge by phone at 703-218-6500 or visit The Center for the Arts complex is located on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123. Paid parking is located in the deck adjacent to the mainstage Concert Hall

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GREAT PERFORMANCES AT MASON is a program of George Mason University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts. The College of Visual and Performing Arts exists to create an academic environment in which the arts may be considered both as individual disciplines and as interdisciplinary forms that strengthen each other. Believing that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the College draws on a variety of professional presenting and producing units where artists from across the country and around the world regularly perform, give master classes, work with students during extended residencies, and interact with the community in a variety of other ways. These programs at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, TheaterSpace, Galleries, Harris Theater, and other venues, provide a diverse selection of challenging and entertaining cultural experiences for the University community, as well as Northern Virginia and the greater Washington, D.C. area. The College houses four academic departments: Art and Visual Technology, Dance, Music and Theater.