La Bohème at the Historic Ritz Theatre – Brunswick, GA

It is one of the most romantic stories of all time, a beautiful work of art that has captivated audiences and influenced literature, film, and the Broadway theater for more than 100 years, and now the Golden Isles community will be able to experience the immortal music of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème on the stage of the Historic Ritz Theatre in Downtown Brunswick – a fitting program for the newly refurbished building that was built as the Grand Opera House in 1899.

Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association (GIAHA) presents the Atlanta Opera production in a special matinee on Sunday, January 23, 2011, at 3:00 p.m. The company has created an 80-minute English-language version for this performance that condenses the many-layered story without sacrificing any of the romantic main plot or the beloved arias so familiar to opera lovers and general audiences alike. The plot of La Bohème follows the love story between seamstress Mimi and poet Rodolfo, two young people struggling to survive in the bohemian world of the Paris art scene in the late 19th century.

La Bohème is the second most frequently produced opera in the U.S., right behind another Puccini work, Madama Butterfly. The story has been adapted into novels and films, and the music was featured prominently in the Academy Award-winning 1987 movie Moonstruck, starring Cher and Nicholas Cage. Composer Jonathan Larsen modernized the story, setting it in the lower Manhattan music and art milieu of the late 20th century in the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit Rent.

“This is a rare opportunity for local audiences to experience one of the great works of the world operatic stage right here at home,” notes GIAHA Executive Director Heather Heath. “Opera buffs, of course, have always delighted in this romantic tale, but those who are less familiar with opera also love this piece and instantly recognize many of its great arias. And people, particularly younger audiences, who know the musical Rent will want to see where that hit production found its timeless themes and characters.”

Because his type of opera (known as verismo) focused on everyday characters in familiar settings, Puccini has long been a favorite of general audiences and acknowledged as one of the main catalysts of American musical theater. Puccini meant for his operas to relate to the common people, and future musical theater writers took this idea a step further by inserting dialogue into their works.

The Atlanta Opera’s production, directed by Tamara Watson Harper, features four outstanding soloists from the company in the roles of Rodolfo, Mimi, Musetta, and Marcello, with a fifth performer serving as narrator of the story. There will be a free post-show meet-and-greet reception with the cast.

Founded in 1979, The Atlanta Opera is one of the finest regional companies in the nation, drawing audiences from the entire metropolitan Atlanta area as well as from throughout the Southeast. The company strives to expand the experience of its patrons with memorable and exciting performances reflecting the highest musical and theatrical standards, while supporting community and educational programs. The company also attracts the finest international, national, and regional singers, conductors, stage directors and designers.

Advance tickets to La Bohème for general audiences are $20 for adults and $15 seniors 65+. GIAHA members are offered additional discounts: $15 adults and $10 seniors in advance, with reserved seating privileges. On the day of the show, ticket prices are $25 for non-member adults, $20 for non-member seniors, $20 adult members and $15 senior members. In keeping with GIAHA’s policy of making the arts more accessible to the youth of our area, ticket prices for ages 18 and under are always $5, regardless of member status or time of purchase. Tickets may be purchased by phone with credit card or in person at the Ritz Theatre on Thursdays and Fridays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. or www.goldenislesarts.org. For more information, please call 912-262-6934