La Bohème comes to 51 Walden
A fully staged production of Puccini’s most beloved opera, La Bohème, will be performed at the Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden on June 9 and 10. Leads Robin Farnsley (Mimi) and Ray Bauwens (Rodolfo) will be joined by a cast of talented young singers including Tim Wilfong, Sarah Vincelett, Thomas Dawkins, Michael Prichard, and Miles Rind. The opera will be performed in Italian, with English surtitles.
La Bohème is being sponsored by Friends of the Performing Arts in Concord (FOPAC) in celebration of its 40th anniversary. Alan Yost will conduct the orchestra, which includes members of The Concord Band and The Concord Orchestra as well as other area musicians. Kathy Lague is the stage director and Paula Eldridge is chorus master. A children’s chorus rehearsed by Kathryn Denney will also participate in the performances.
The premier of La Bohème took place in Turin in 1896 (nine years after 51 Walden was built as the town armory). The opera is set in Paris in 1830, where many spirited and creative young writers, philosophers and artists struggled to eat, stay warm and pay their rent. The story focuses on the poet Rodolfo and the seamstress Mimi, who live in separate rooms in a Latin Quarter garret. They meet when Mimi’s candle has blown out and she has no matches to relight it, so she knocks on his door. The two fall in love but have a troubled relationship because Mimi has contracted consumption (tuberculosis).
Many other colorful bohemians add to the drama—the philosopher Colline, the musician Schaunard, the painter Marcello, his former sweetheart Musetta, and Alcindoro, her aging but wealthy new admirer. The boisterous second act takes place outside the Café Momus, where toy seller Parpignol and other street vendors ply their wares. Soldiers march through the streets, adding confusion to the lively scene.
La Bohème is another in a series of highly successful FOPAC collaborations that have been staged at 51 Walden in recent years—Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan, Die Fledermaus by Strauss, and Amahl and the Night Visitors by Menotti. These productions have been open to the entire community, not just the resident groups at 51 Walden, so the resources of the building are being made available to a much larger group of people. Auditions for the lead roles have attracted young opera singers from the metropolitan Boston area.
Alan Yost, a research aircraft pilot and IT specialist by day and conductor and tympanist by night, has been instrumental in recruiting musicians and other personnel for these productions. Soprano Robin Farnsley (Mimi), who had an operatic career in Arizona prior to moving to the Boston area several years ago, dazzled the audience as Rosalinde in the FOPAC production of Die Fledermaus. Tenor Ray Bauwens (Rodolfo) has performed throughout New England as well as in several FOPAC productions including Die Fledermaus and The Telephone and Amahl and the Night Visitors by Menotti.
John Tischio, president of the New England Opera Club, will give a free lecture on La Bohème at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6 at 51 Walden.
The Saturday June 9 performance is at 8 p.m. and the Sunday June 10 matinee begins at 2 p.m. Musicologist Laura Prichard will give a short introduction 45 minutes prior to each performance. Reserved seat tickets are $25, and may be obtained on-line at www.51walden.org or by calling 978 369-7911. Proceeds will benefit the operation of 51 Walden.