COC Mounts Popular Puccini Classic, La Bohème,
With Two Additional Performances
Toronto, Ontario – The Canadian Opera Company
continues its 2004/05 season with perhaps the world’s most famous opera,
Puccini’s La Bohème. Puccini’s glorious music sets the stage
for this quintessential tale of young love and heartbreaking loss.
Conducting will be shared by David T. Heusel, in his North American
debut, and COC favourite Derek Bate. Canadian Robert McQueen
returns to the company in his COC mainstage directing debut. Due to sold-out
runs of this production in 2000, the COC has added two performances to
accommodate the demand for tickets to this enormously popular opera.
La Bohème runs at Toronto’s Hummingbird Centre for the Performing
Arts, January 23 at 2 p.m., 26 at 7:30 p.m.,
29 at 7:30 p.m., February 1 at 7:30 p.m., 4
at 7:30 p.m., 6 at 2 p.m., 10 at 7:30 p.m.
and 12 at 7:30 p.m. La Bohème is sung in Italian
with English SURTITLESTM.
Set in the raucous streets of Paris’ Latin Quarter in the
1830s, La Bohème is a celebration of the strength of
friendship and the power of love. At the heart of the tale is a group of
poor but passionate young bohemian artists eager to embrace all that life
has to offer. When the poet Rodolfo falls deeply in love with the gravely
ill seamstress Mimì, their intense affair is made all the more heartbreaking
because of its unavoidably tragic end.
Turkish tenors Bülent Külekçi, in his North American
debut, and Bülent Bezduz, in his Canadian debut, alternate in the
role of the ardent Rodolfo. Greek soprano Elena Kelessidi, praised
for performances across Europe and the United States since debuting in 1996
at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden as opera’s important new discovery,
makes her Canadian debut as the delicate Mimì. Rodolfo’s friend,
long-suffering painter Marcello, is sung by Italian baritone Gabriele
Viviani in his North American debut. Marcello’s spirited girlfriend
Musetta is performed by COC Ensemble Studio graduate mezzo-soprano
Krisztina Szabó, who appeared in the role of Offred’s Double to critical
acclaim in The Handmaid’s Tale this fall and was recently seen as
Nancy in the Ensemble Studio production of Albert Herring. Fellow
bohemians, Schaunard the musician and the philosopher Colline are sung by
COC Ensemble baritone Peter McGillivray, recently seen as both Sid
and the Vicar in Albert Herring, and Ensemble bass Robert Gleadow,
respectively. Bass Cornelis Opthof begins his 45th season with the
COC singing Benoît, the bohemian’s blustering landlord, and Alcindoro,
Musetta’s elderly admirer. COC Ensemble tenor Victor Micallef,
praised for his recent performance in the title role in Albert Herring,
sings Parpignol, the toy-seller. COC favourites, baritone Bruce Shaef
and bass Christopher Cameron complete the cast as the Customs House
Sergeant and the Customs Officer, respectively.
Although a success with audiences at its premiere in 1896,
critically La Bohème was given a cool reception and deemed
unlikely to figure prominently in the history of opera. Within six months it
was Puccini’s most popular work and has come to be regarded as one of the
top 10 operas in the world.
La Bohème is the COC’s most performed opera and has
been mounted on the mainstage 13 times.
The sets for the COC’s production were designed by
Wolfram Skalicki with costumes by Amrei Skalicki. Stephen Ross
creates the romantic Parisian lighting design.
Single tickets for La Bohème went on sale November
15, 2004 and may be purchased by calling 416-872-2262, online at
www.coc.ca or in person at the Hummingbird Centre Box Office
or Ticketmaster outlets. Ticket prices for all performances range
from $40 to $175. Tickets for those who are 17 years of age or under,
accompanied by and sitting next to an adult, are priced from $18 to $50.
Starting January 15, 2005 at 10 a.m., $18 and $29
tickets are available for patrons between the ages of 18 and 29 through the
18to29: Opera for a New Age program presented by TD Bank Financial
Four-opera Flexi-Packs for the COC’s 2004/05 season may be
purchased by calling 416-363-8231, toll-free at 1-800-250-4653,
or in person at the COC Box Office, 227 Front St. East, Toronto. Visit