“La Bohème” Comes to TPAC to Tell a Timeless Story of Love and Loss


Nashville Opera kicks off its 2022-23 season with two performances of “La Bohème” on September 22 and 24 at TPAC’s Jackson Hall.

The classic Italian opera in four acts inspired the musical “Rent” and the films “Moulin Rouge” and “Moonstruck”. It’s a timeless story of youthful love, loss, and the search for freedom of expression told with music featuring some of the most memorable melodies of all time. Written by Giacomo Puccini between 1893 and 1895, “La Bohème” continues to be a favorite of audiences and opera companies.

“At its heart, it’s about being young and creative and finding your way in the world,” said John Hoomes, CEO and Artistic Director of Nashville Opera.

Hoomes, who has worked at the Nashville Opera for more than 25 years, has staged “La Bohème” several times. He said he never tires of doing it.

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“I’m counting down the seasons until I’m able to do it again,” he said. “The music is so beautiful and heartfelt. Our characters are starving artists in Paris trying to survive. All the while, they fall in and out of love. And it’s just a wonderfully constructed piece. not a note or a scene wasted.

Luis Orozco, Zach Borichevsky, Michelle Johnson, Spencer Reichman and Allen Michael Jones rehearse a scene at Café Momus for

Conducted by Hoomes and conducted by Dean Williamson of the Nashville Opera Orchestra, this 2022 production of “La Bohème” makes it the most frequently staged work in the history of the Nashville Opera. This year’s cast includes baritones Luis Orozco as Marcello, Spencer Reichman as Schaunard and Mark Whatley as Benoit and Alcindora. Allen bass Michael Jones as Hill, tenor Zach Borichevsky as Rodolfo and sopranos Flora Hawk as Musetta and Michelle Johnson as Mimi make their Nashville Opera debut. The opera will be sung in Italian with easy-to-read projected English surtitles.

Johnson said she had the privilege of singing Mimi six times and it felt new each time.

“This show is very relevant and fun for us as artists. We’re an ensemble cast playing an ensemble cast of artist friends. I think audiences are captivated by the camaraderie of the characters.

Audiences will also find a lot to tell in this show, she added.

“This opera has nothing to do with aristocrats or royalty. It’s about ordinary people trying to make money, live free and find love. It’s about not sweating the small stuff, because you never know when it’s time to take the big bow. And who doesn’t love a little drama?

The story is originally set in Paris in the 1830s, but this production places the characters in Paris between World War I and World War II, when the City of Light was a center of artistic and literary life. Featuring an artists’ loft and sidewalk cafes, the production brings back the original “La Bohème” set from the Nashville Opera House designed by renowned set designer Peter Harrison in 2014 and sponsored by The Three of Us Foundation. The show features also new costumes from Susan Memmott Allred.

Hoomes disagrees that Puccini’s work is too sentimental. “La Bohème” is based on “Scènes de la vie de bohème,” the 1851 serialized novel by Henri Merger, which put bohemians and their way of life on the map. Like the book, the opera is realistic in its point of view, Hoomes said.

“I think Puccini was very lucid in the way he approached relationships in this story. He didn’t pull any punches. It’s about the good times and the bad times in life. Personally, I like the tackling it like a romantic musical that has a very sad ending. In ‘La Bohème’, just like in real life, there’s very little telegraph that this kind of ending is coming.

Of course, in an opera, the truth and the emotion of the story come less from the text than from the music.

“A lot of the acting and movement in this play comes from the music,” Hoomes said. “Part of a director’s job in an opera is to find out what’s really going on in the subtext of the music. And if the composer is great, he will show it to you too. Even if a character says one thing, the music can say something different. Music is truth.

Puccini wrote “La Bohème” at the top of his game, Hoomes added. “He was also young then, and I think that allowed him to really capture the feelings of the story in his music.”

“These are songs you know without even realizing it,” Johnson said. “Pucchini is just one of those composers who really knew the human spirit. There are these big soaring parts and very quiet and sensitive parts, and the way the vocals meld with the orchestration is so raw and visceral. I always say, if there are no tears at the end of “La Bohème”, it’s because we haven’t done our job.”

If you are going to

What: “Bohemian”

When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 and 24

Where: Andrew Jackson Hall, TPAC

Tickets and information: www.tpac.org/event/2022-09-22-to-2022-09-24-la-boheme/


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