Monday, September 20, 2010

'La Boheme' in CdA this weekend

Posted on Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 4:20 PM

Puccini's tale of tragic love will be sung this weekend at North Idaho College's Boswell Hall in the Inland Northwest's only fully staged grand opera to appear this fall.

Opera Coeur d'Alene will present performances on Friday, Sept. 24, at 7:30 pm and on Sunday, Sept. 26, at 2 pm (with pre-performance discussion one hour beforehand). Tickets: $29-$35; $18, students. Call (208) 769-7780.

If you liked Rent (1996), this is your chance to revisit the original story of exactly a century before. (This time, Mimi has the 19th-century version of being HIV-positive: tuberculosis.) Sure, it'll be sung in Italian — but look above the Schuler PAC stage for some nifty English supra-titles. And the talent level is impressive:

As flirtatious, consumptive Mimi: Christina Kowalski (below), who has experience singing operas in Germany.

As Rodolfo the poet, Mimi's lover: Chad Berlinghieri (right) who has extensive experience singing in California, especially at Opera Pacific in Orange County, and who has performed three times previously in CdA.

Two local favorites will also appear:  Max Mendez as Schaunard the musician, and William Rhodes in dual roles as Benoit the landlord and Alcindoro the politician.

Directed by Todd Robinson of Opera Coeur d'Alene, the production will be conducted by Duane Skrabalak, who was the artistic director of an opera company in Binghampton, N.Y., for more than 30 years.

So if you've ever been so poor that you would have burned your books just to stay warm — would have, that is, if you could have afforded some matches — you'll thrill to duets like "O Mimi, tu piu non tomi" (Oh, Mimi, won't you come back?"). Puccini's like that — soaring strings, pitiful death scenes ... gets us every time.

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