LA BOHÈME – Opens Sunday Afternoon, November 16th

San Francisco Opera presents international cast
in Puccini’s most popular opera now through December 7th

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

This production boasts two casts of internationally renowned stars, one headlined by Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu and Polish tenor Piotr Beczala and the other by Latvian soprano Maija Kovalevska and Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja. In his first SF Opera appearance since his appointment as music director designate, Nicola Luisotti conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus in this seamless mix of romantic passion and poignant tragedy. The November – December performances of this Christmastime story of Bohemian artists falling in and out of love appropriately coincide with both the holiday season and the 150th anniversary of Puccini’s birth on December 22, 1858.

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ANGELA GHEORGHIU, as Mimi – La Bohème. Photo, Marty Sohl

Mr & Mrs Smith

A moving tale of ill-fated love set against the carefree lifestyle of mid 19th-century Paris, La Bohème tells the passionate story of the beautiful yet ailing seamstress Mimi (Gheorghiu, Kovalevska, Moore) and the struggling poet Rodolfo (Beczala, Calleja). After falling instantly in love upon their first meeting, the young lovers regretfully part due to Rodolfo’s jealousy and his guilt over their living conditions, which have worsened Mimi’s illness. Knowing that she is dying of consumption, Mimi at last returns to Rodolfo and the pair is united, only to be separated forever by Mimi’s death. Soprano Angela Gheorghiu, who electrifies critics and audiences alike with the beauty of her voice and the depth of her characterizations, makes her highly anticipated return to San Francisco Opera as Mimi, following her great success as Magda in La Rondine last season.

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PIOTR BECZALA & JOSEPH CALLEJA

Piotr Beczala, who last appeared with the Company as Tamino in 2007′s The Magic Flute, is Rodolfo. Sharing these roles are soprano Maija Kovalevska, who made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Mimi in 2006 to rave reviews, and tenor Joseph Calleja, who famously stepped in as Rodolfo for an ailing Rolando Villazon at the Vienna State Opera in what was reported as a “major triumph” for the young tenor. Ms. Kovalevska and Mr. Calleja both make their San Francisco Opera debuts in this production, and former Adler Fellow Melody Moore returns to sing Mimi on Tuesday December 2nd at 7:30 pm.

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MAIJA KOVALEVSKA & MELODY MOORE

Rounding out Rodolfo’s trio of poverty-stricken friends are Marcello, the painter; Colline, the philosopher; and Schaunard, the musician, all sharing a small attic apartment in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The role of Marcello is shared by baritones Quinn Kelsey, an alumnus of the Merola Opera Program, and Brian Mulligan, in his Company debut. Musetta, Marcello’s flirtatious and fickle lover, is sung by French soprano Norah Amsellem; Adler Fellow Tamara Wapinsky also sings the role in three performances. Bass Oren Gradus sings Colline, a role he shares with Adler Fellow Kenneth Kellogg. Baritone Brian Leerhuber is Schaunard and bass Dale Travis sings the dual roles of the quartet’s landlord Benoit and Alcindoro, Musetta’s wealthy admirer.

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NICOLA LUISOTTI, Conductor & GIACOMO PUCCINI, Composer

Nicola Luisotti, Music Director Designate and master of the Italian repertoire, conducts Puccini’s unforgettable score. Stepping in to conduct the final two performances will be fellow Italian Giuseppe Finzi, who makes his San Francisco Opera debut this season with The Elixir of Love for Families. This San Francisco Opera production, last seen in 2004, is directed by well-known opera and musical theater director Harry Silverstein.

Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the ten performances of La Bohème are scheduled for November 16th (2 pm), November 19th (7:30 pm), November 22nd (8 pm), November 25th (8 pm), November 28th (8 pm), November 29th (8 pm), November 30th (2 pm), December 2nd (7:30 pm), December 4th (7:30 pm), and December 7th (2 pm).

MIMÌ: Angela Gheorghiu / Maija Kovalevska (11/29, 12/4, 12/7) / Melody Moore (12/2)
RODOLFO: Piotr Beczala / Joseph Calleja (11/29, 12/4, 12/7)
MARCELLO: Quinn Kelsey / Brian Mulligan (11/19, 11/22, 11/29, 12/4, 12/7)
MUSETTA: Norah Amsellem / Tamara Wapinsky (11/29, 12/4, 12/7)
COLLINE: Oren Gradus / Kenneth Kellogg (11/29, 12/4, 12/7)

Visit Seán on YouTube:
Lorena Feijóo – A Look at “Giselle” with Seán Martinfield
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CA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES – A Preview Look with Seán Martinfield

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See Related: FINE ARTS CRITIC SEAN MARTINFIELD

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Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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