BrottOpera Presents: La Bohème
Since its genesis in 2015, BrottOpera has given us several spectacular performances; from Rossini’s ever entertaining The Barber of Seville to Bizet’s seductively superb Carmen, these productions have rejuvenated the spirit of opera in Hamilton. This year, as BrottOpera celebrates its 5th anniversary, we have the pleasure of experiencing Puccini’s stunning creation, La Bohème.
Did you know?
This enrapturing creation began with an interesting dawning— La Bohème almost wasn’t developed by Puccini at all; Puccini’s companions spent three years trying to CONVINCE him to compose on opera on the Bohemian theme! Puccini’s earnestness was strengthened when he learned that one of his greatest rivals, Ruggero Leoncavallo, was developing his own La Bohème. Thanks to the popular press, Puccini earned favour and with the support of collaborator Luigi Illica and respected poet Guiseppe Giacosa, La Bohème was completed and finally premiered in February of 1896, conducted by a young Arturo Toscanini. Critics who were familiar with Puccini’s previous works were pleasantly surprised to experience the sweetness of La Bohème, and not the dark drama that they were expecting. Such a successful reception lead to the reunion of the three collaborators to go on to create two more beloved and sensational operas: Tosca and Madama Butterfly.
This opera was chosen not only because it is a cornerstone in the pantheon of traditional opera, but also because its characters and themes resonate for the Hamilton community.
The original tale of La Bohème takes place in the Latin Quarter of 1830s Paris and follows a group of humble artists, struggling to stay warm and put food on the table. It’s a fable of struggle, celebration, love, camaraderie, and tragedy. BrottOpera’s recreation of this story will reflect the artists’ narrative, however the scenes will transform from the cobbled streets of Paris to 1930s Hamilton on the brink of the Great Depression. These years yielded a significant decline in domestic consumption and international trade for Hamilton, bringing growth to a complete standstill for a decade. The economic conditions left many working-class Hamiltonians struggling to meet their basic needs – reflective of the writers, painters, poets, and musicians of La Bohème.
Though penniless and hungry, one significant conviction to which these characters cling is that of hopefulness. As the Bohemians of Paris surmounted their struggle, so did the workers of Hamilton conquer the Depression. Such a testament to that truth is the City today.
Emerging Artist Program
BrottOpera’s emerging artists program is truly unique; offering daily classes, coaching, masterclasses, professional development and two grand performances with orchestra, one of PopOpera (opera excerpts concert) and one fully-staged operatic production. In addition to this training participants are paid a stipend and their accommodation is provided. Coaching and seminars are led by the industry’s best professionals (not professors) who really know what it takes to make it as a successful established performer. Masterclass teachers have included internationally renowned Soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, Tenor Richard Margison, Baritone John Fanning as well as the late Stuart Hamilton.
We invite you to come experience this captivating performance, conducted by Maestro Boris Brott and featuring the brilliant musicians of the National Academy Orchestra of Canada, and featuring original artworks by Jacqui Templeton-Muir based on photographs of 1930s Hamilton.
La Bohème will be performed on Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at the FirstOntario Concert Hall in Hamilton at 7:30pm.
By Heidi Hoffmann