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University participates in huge 'La Bohème' simulcast

Sept. 14, 2007

By Anita Martin

Opera-lovers, young bohemians and the curious alike can enjoy a free, live broadcast of Washington National Opera's edgy new interpretation of Puccini's "La Bohème" at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, in Baker Center Ballroom. Doors open at 1 p.m. for open seating.

Ohio University is one of 32 schools across the country -- and the only one in Ohio -- locally presenting the live simulcast from Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. This event is anticipated to be the largest-ever simultaneous viewing of an opera in the world, with more than 45,000 expected viewers, including a large D.C. audience at the Washington Monument on the National Mall. 

This version -- Mariusz Trelinski's "La Bohème," from Teatr Wielki National Opera Warsaw -- is a modern take on the timeless opera. Set in the present day, protagonist Rodolfo is a photographer and part of a contemporary group of artists struggling with their careers and longing to truly connect with each other in a increasingly technology-based world. 

"It is a distinct honor for the Ohio University School of Music to present 'La Bohème,'  the beloved and timeless story of star-crossed lovers with unforgettable music by Puccini, to our university and community," said Michael Parkinson, director of the School of Music. "I am personally looking forward to sharing this afternoon with both the serious opera lover and individuals for whom 'grand opera' is a grand new experience."

The university's involvement stemmed from an inquiry Associate Professor of Music Patricia Pease made after learning of plans for the simulcast. Ohio University President Roderick McDavis and first lady Deborah McDavis have accepted an invitation to attend the live Kennedy Center performance.

Prior to the simulcast, Washington National Opera will present discussions on three topics, including:

  • Bohéme: How It Transcends Medium, which examines the work's evolution from book to opera, musical theater ("Rent" and Baz Lurhman's recent Broadway production) and film.
  • Where are the Bohemians? This is a look at the social issues addressed in the work and how they remain relevant to audiences over time.
  • Opera Forum with WNO's young artists, directors and conductors on the practical issues of developing a professional opera career. An online message board gives students around the country a place to pose questions or get information from the Washington National Opera staff and key educators at participating institutions. 

"What a wonderful way to draw younger audiences to opera with this innovative new production of 'La Bohème,'" said Plácido Domingo, Washington National Opera's general director. Washington National Opera was at the forefront of simulcast technology with its broadcasts of "Porgy and Bess" in 2005 and "Madama Butterfly" in November 2006, both on the National Mall.

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