Wednesday, April 2, 2008

‘La Bohème’ on film at the Y

Timeless story gets a modern makeover

Express Staff Writer

Puccini’s “La Boheme” was directed by Baz Luhrman for both screen and stage.

When Giacomo Puccini first unveiled the opera "La Bohème" in 1896 he created a masterpiece. More than a hundred years later, "La Bohème" is not only the most performed opera around the world but it has been adapted as a Broadway musical and for numerous film versions including one by Australian director Baz Lurhmann in 1994.

As part of the Sun Valley Opera's education outreach program, Lurhmann's "La Bohème" will be screened at the YMCA in Ketchum on Sunday, April 6, at 5 p.m. Admission to the film will be free as well as intermission refreshments. In addition there will be a drawing to win two iPods with music from the film.

Lurhmann's "La Bohème" is based on the Tony award-winning Broadway production, which takes the tragic love story of Mimí and Colline set in 1830s Paris and updates it to Paris in 1957. The plot is still the same, a story about struggling young artists who can't pay their rent but maintain a passion for life. The film has English subtitles for its Italian lyrics and the performers look and act like Hollywood movie stars.

Lurhmann directed "Moulin Rouge" and a film version of "Romeo and Juliet" and has applied his distinct directing style to "La Bohème." Anya Matanovic, who played the leading role of Mimí in the Los Angeles stage production of "La Bohème," said Lurhmann had a wonderful energy at rehearsals and a real gift for observing human physicality.

"Opera has a reputation for stiff acting and unrealistic staging, but Baz made everything real," Matanovic said. "We worked for weeks before we opened, just sitting in a room speaking all the words in our own language so we could make sure we knew exactly what we were saying and what it meant to each one of us."

This year the Sun Valley Opera celebrates its seventh anniversary, and the screening of "La Bohème" commences its new education outreach program. Taking opera out of the opera house, the program is designed to enhance appreciation for the classically trained voices and bring opera music to both students and adults in the Wood River Valley. The film will be shown on a large screen with Dolby surround sound.

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