Opera Philadelphia

Published25 Mar 2019

Opera Philadelphia closes the 2018-2019 Season with La bohème

Puccini’s blockbuster enlivened by sets and costumes influenced by collections of the Barnes Foundation and Philadelphia Museum of Art 

When first mounted by Opera Philadelphia in 2012, Davide Livermore’s “visually inventive and colorful” (Opera News) production of Puccini’s Labohème was deemed “an absolute success, full of fine singing and acting, and eye-filling stage direction” (Philadelphia Inquirer). The production, now a staple of the Palau de les Arts “Reina Sofía” in Valencia, Spain, makes its much-anticipated return to Philadelphia on Friday, April 26, with five performances at the Academy of Music through Sunday, May 6. 

This popular revival of Puccini’s romantic blockbuster, led by Music Director Corrado Rovaris, draws its inspiration from masterpieces from the treasured collections of the Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Vivid projections of some of the world’s most renowned Impressionist art from the turn of the 20th century—including works from Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Cassatt—set the stage at the Academy of Music, with costumes and other design elements influenced by paintings and drawings from the collections. 

“We are thrilled to welcome the return of this dramatic and imaginative production of Puccini’s beloved masterpiece Labohème, providing a fitting conclusion to our 2018-2019 Season,” said David B. Devan, General Director & President of Opera Philadelphia. “The incredible collections from the Barnes Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art provide a rich patina that combine with the lush melodies of Puccini to create new interactions with both art forms. We see Renoir's Woman Sewing as Mimì sings of her job as a seamstress. Van Gogh's beloved Sunflowers blooms in time with the love of Mimì and Rodolfo, and when he famously buys her a bonnet, we see Renoir's Girl With Pink Bonnet. We are honored to bring this experience back to Philadelphia.” 

Soprano VanessaVasquez – a grand-prize winner at the Metropolitan Opera’s 2017 National Council auditions – makes her company debut as the shy seamstress Mimì, opposite Evan LeRoy Johnson as Rodolfo. Last spring, Johnson won acclaim for the “dramatic truth” and “effortless vocal production” (Philadelphia Inquirer) of his star turn as Don José in Carmen 

Credit: Kelly & Massa

Baritone Troy Cookreprises his Marcello from the 2012 productionin which he offered a strong, well-rounded portrayal” (Opera News). Opera Philadelphia Emerging Artist Ashley Marie Robillard tackles the role of Musetta, Marcello’s muse and sometimes girlfriend. Joining the cast of young bohemians who are making art and falling in love are the “mellow-voiced and charismatic” (New York Timesbaritone WillLiverman, who won raves as Dizzy Gillespie in 2015’s CharlieParker’sYARDBIRD, sings Schaunardand bass PeixinChenlends his “aural and interpretive beauty” (WQXRto the role of Colline. As Benoît and Alcindoro, bass Kevin Burdette, acclaimed for his “tour de force of vocal splendor and comic timing” (San Francisco Chronicle), returns to the Academy stage where he has garnered plenty of laughs and cheers in recent performances of Cold MountainThe Barber of Seville, and The Elixir of Love. 

Tickets, ranging from $25 to $275, are now available at operaphila.org or by calling 215.732.8400. 

Credit: Kelly & Massa


La bohème 
Music by Giacomo Puccini | Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa 
Production of the Palau de les Arts “Reina Sofía” in Valencia, Spain, in 2012 
April 26, 28, May 1, 3, 5, 2019 
Academy of Music 
Performed in Italian with English Supertitles 

Opera at the Academy is underwritten, in part, by Judy and Peter Leone 


Rodolfo / Evan LeRoy Johnson 
Mimì / Vanessa Vasquez* 
Marcello / Troy Cook 
Musetta / Ashley Marie Robillard 
Schaunard / Will Liverman 
Colline / Peixin Chen 
Benoît & Alcindoro / Kevin Burdette 

Conductor / Corrado Rovaris 

Director / Alessandra Premoli* 
Original Direction & Set Design / Davide Livermore 
Costume Design / Davide Livermore and Palau de Les Arts 
Audiovisual / D-Wok 

Lighting Design / Drew Billiau 


*Opera Philadelphia debut 

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