Six bohemians share a story of hardship, agony, love, and creative resilience, raising a toast to happier times!
An innovative and completely new production that reimagines Puccini’s popular and beloved opera. The sound is La bohème and the look is Rent. The shows will be intimately performed with two pianos in Franklinton’s 400 West Rich, a 100 year-old warehouse that has been converted into creative arts space. There will be a pre-show gallery hop with 400 West Rich artists. La bohème @ 400 West Rich will be performed over two weekends with six total performances and two casts. The May 20, 22, + 23 cast includes Bizhou Chang and Jesus Garcia, and the May 21, 28 + 30 cast includes Keyona Willis and John David Nevergall as the Mimi’s and Rodolfo’s respectfully.
There will be a FREE live stream of La bohème on Saturday, May 22 at 7:30 PM EST. Click here to tune in!
This production will be performed in English with English surtitles.
400 W Rich has free lot parking available across the street on Lucas Street, and
ADA accessible parking in the gated lot on Rich Street. To view a map, click here.
A haze machine will be used in this production
Mature language throughout
Internationally acclaimed tenor, Jesus Garcia, has been praised by the press for his “soaring vocalism” and his “dynamic stage presence”. He specializes in the romantic roles of the French and Italian repertoires.
Critically acclaimed appearances of the recent past include Mr. Garcia’s debut in the title role of Gounod’s FAUST at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in Finland under the baton of Philippe Auguin, COUNT ALMAVIVA in Rosetta Cucchi’s production of “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” with Boston Lyric Opera, and RODOLFO in “La Boheme” with Tampere Talo in Finland.
“His Italian-like colorful voice was capable of anything. He mastered the highest notes. It feels like Garcia doesn’t just settle for acting, instead he lives the role. Jesus Garcia is probably the best Faust in the history of the Savonlinna Opera festival.”
“As Count Almaviva, Jesus Garcia was on fire from the beginning, unleashing beautifully ardent paeans to Rosina in his elegant voice and throwing himself wholly into his various disguises as drunken soldier and obsequious music teacher.”
– The Boston Globe
Other recent guest engagements brought Jesus Garcia’s debut as GIASONE in Cherubini’s “Medea” under the baton of Jane Glover at Opera Omaha, as well as his return to Nederlandse Reisopera as ALFREDO in Floris Visser’s production of “La Traviata”, and his return to the Badisches Staatstheater for the title part of TITO in Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito.” Garcia also recently appeared at The Wexford Festival as ENRICO in Fabio Ceresa’s new production of Donizetti’s seldom performed opera “Maria de Rudenz”; as NADIR with the Nederlandse Reisopera and the Carré Theater in Amsterdam; as ALFREDO under the baton of Lawrence Foster at the Savonlinna Opera Festival; as RODOLFO in Puccini’s “La Bohème” directed by Rosetta Cucchi at the Boston Lyric Opera; as well as MACDUFF in “Macbeth”, PYLADES in Gluck’s “Iphigenie en Tauride”, TEBALDO in Bellini’s “I Capuleti e i Montecchi”, and NEMORINO in “L’Elisir d’Amore” directed by Jacopo Spirei at the Badisches Staatstheater. Mr. Garcia also performed Mozart’s “Requiem” in cities thoughout Italy with Filharmonia Arturo Toscanini conducted by Maestro Rinaldo Alessandrini.
Engagements in 2021 include the role of “Rufus” in the new opera “Desert In” with Boston Lyric Opera, Rodolfo in “La Boheme” with Opera Columbus, and Tebaldo in “I Capuleti e i Montecchi” with Opera Omaha. Mr. Garcia is also a singer-songwriter, and his debut record ”Fundamental” is being released in Spring 2021. www.jesusg.com
Past company credits include FENTON in Falstaff with the Houston Grand Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia; FERRANDO in Cosi fan Tutte with the Berlin Staatsoper and the Spoleto Festival USA; RODOLFO in La Boheme with Boston Lyric Opera, L’Opera National de Bordeaux, Prague State Opera, Opera Hong Kong, Opera New Zealand, and Opera Rio de Janeiro; NADIR in Les Pecheurs de Perles with the Opera Firenze, Nationale Reisopera Netherlands, Minnesota Opera, Opera Toulon, and Michigan Opera Theater; ERNESTO in Don Pasquale with Opera Company of Philadelphia, Palm Beach Opera, and Arizona Opera; ALFREDO in La Traviata with Savonlinna Opera Festival, Theater Heidelberg, Staatsoper Darmstadt, and Phoenix Opera; ALFRED in Die Fledermaus with the Washington National Opera; RAMIRO in La Cenerentola with the Washington National Opera and the Dallas Opera; LYSANDER in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Hamburg Staatsoper and Lyric Opera of Chicago (cover); STEVA in Jenufa and Rossini’s Stabat Mater with Opera Marseille; LE BESILIEN in La Vie Parisienne with L’Opera National de Lyon; IDOMENEO with theaters Nancy, Caen, and Luxembourg; TONIO in La Fille du Regiment with Michigan Opera Theater; JEAN in Le Jongleur de Notre Dame with L’Esplanade Massenet Festival in St. Etienne, France and in Theater Basel in Switzerland; TEBALDO in I Capuleti e i Montecchi with the Spoleto Festival USA; and OVIDIO in the world premiere of Before Night Falls with Ft. Worth Opera.
Recording credits include the world premiere recording of Jorge Martin’s “Before Night Falls”, the Original Broadway Cast recording of Baz Luhrmann’s “La Boheme”, and the Virgin Classics DVD recording of Laurent Pelly’s production of “La Vie Parisienne”.
Jesus Garcia has made several television appearances including the “Today Show”, “Breakfast with the Arts” on A&E, and the “Tony Awards”. He has also been featured in the pages of numerous publications including “The New York Times”, “Vogue”, “Vanity Fair”, “New York Magazine”, and “Opera News”.
John David Nevergall
Originally from Elmore, Ohio, John David Nevergall’s formal music training began with, and focused upon, classical and jazz percussion. His work in vocal music came to the fore only after he completed much of his graduate education. While spending his days working as a bus driver, John David made his professional opera debut as Rodolfo in Opera Columbus’ award-winning production of La Bohème. Since that time, John David has appeared around the United States, including engagements with Tulsa Opera, Nevada Opera, Central City Opera, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and the Missouri Symphony. As a concert soloist, John David has performed numerous masterworks, including Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elias, and Handel’s Messiah. In April of 2016, he made his debut at Boston’s historic Symphony Hall as the Tenor Soloist for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Boston University Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of renowned maestro Ken-David Masur.
John David is an alumnus of the prestigious Boston University Opera Institute, where he was a student of Jerrold Pope. In addition to this, he has trained as an apprentice artist with Tulsa Opera, Central City Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and Des Moines Metro Opera. John David was named a winner in the Boston District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2016. During the following year, he was selected as a Phyllis Curtin Artist by the Boston University Opera Institute. Along with these honors, John David has received grants and awards from the Gerda Lissner Foundation, The Ohio State University, and Central City Opera. Learn more about John David by visiting www.johndavidnevergall.com
Bizhou Chang, Soprano: During the Covid-19 impacted 2020-2021 season, Ms. Chang returned to Pensacola Opera to sing the role of Micaëla in Carmen, and makes her film debut as Mimì in an innovative film version of La Bohème with More than Musical, Opera Omaha and Tri Cities Opera, which is expected to be released in April 2021. Ms. Chang
was an Artist in Residence at Pensacola Opera for their 2019-2020 season, where she performed Zerlina in Don Giovanni and covered Leonora in Il Trovatore. Ms. Chang’s operatic repertoire spans from Baroque to Contemporary, including Cio Cio San in Madama Butterfly with Janiec Opera Company at Brevard Music Center, Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with Miami Music Festival, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, Magda Sorel in Menotti’s The Consul, Madame Lidoine in Dialogues des Carmélites, and the title role in Alcina with Boston Conservatory at Berklee. Ms Chang is a finalist of the prestigious Teatro all Scala Academy of Lyric Opera Competition and a finalist of the XVI International Tchaikovsky Competition.
Keyona Willis, recently had the honor of performing Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi with Opera Columbus and Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors in Marysville. Last spring, Ms. Willis was the soprano soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with Central Ohio Symphony Orchestra and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Willis also performed Mozart’s Requiem, as the soprano soloist, with Capriccio Columbus and later with the Westerville Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Willis portrayed Mimi in the engaging, musical story telling of Opera Columbus’ La Bohéme Opera on the Edge and was recently seen in New York portraying Alice Ford in Verdi’s Falstaff with Prelude to Performance. She also had the honor of singing a premier work, The Ruby Elzy Story, inspired by David Weaver’s book, Black Diva of the Thirties. Other notable performances include: Donna Anna (Don Giovanni), Vitellia (La Clemenza di Tito), Aida (Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida), Adolfo (Faramondo), Juliette (Romeo et Juliette), Countess (Le nozze di Figaro), Polly (The Threepenny Opera), Susannah (Tintypes), Monica (The Medium), and Rosa Bud (The Mystery of Edwin Drood). Ms. Willis obtained her Bachelor of Music degree from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio and her Master of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts with a Singing Health Specialization from The Ohio State University. Ms. Willis is a Senior Lecturer of Voice at Otterbein University. Ms. Willis is a proud member of the Actor’s Equity Association and the National Association of Teachers Association.
American operatic baritone Eric McKeever has won consistent praise for his voice of “power and brilliance” (Chicago Tribune) and “considerable flexibility and a communicative presence enhanced by expressive, crystalline diction.” (Opera News)
Eric’s 2020-2021 season includes recording Kamala Sankaram’s Looking at You and Experiments in Opera’s Aqua Net and Funyuns podcast opera, performing Dandini in Opera on Tap’s digital version of La Cenerentola, performing live in Salt Marsh Opera’s outdoor “Music at the Lighthouse” concert, joining Little Opera Theatre of NY in a live-stream of Zemlinksy’s Eine florentische tragödie, and returning to Opera Columbus for Marcello in a new production of La bohème.[/one-half] Eric is a frequent performer with Opera Columbus having recently appeared as Sharpless (Madama Butterfly), Betto (Gianni Schicchi) and Marcello in 2016’s La bohème.
Ivy Zhou is active in the Pacific Northwest as an operatic soprano, voice teacher, and children’s music teacher. Recent engagements include the title role in Seattle Opera’s filmed production of Earth to Kenzie, the Voice in Dacha Theatre’s filmed Orpheus and Eurydice, Musetta in Portland Opera’s outreach production of La Bohème, Chloe in Seattle Gilbert and Sullivan Society’s Princess Ida, Cinderella in Seattle Opera school tour’s Cinderella en España, the Rose in Opera Theater Oregon’s The Little Prince, and Susanna in Aquilon Music Festival’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She made her Seattle Opera mainstage debut in August 2019, singing the Page in Rigoletto. Aside from singing, she enjoys nature, fine art and jewelry, good food, and cuddling with her cat, Cosmo.
Baritone Patrick Graham, a Kansas City, Missouri native, has been praised for his “vocal strength” and “beautiful tone.” He has sung with the Ad Astra Music Festival, Seagle Music Colony, Eastman Opera Theater, Eastman Collegium Musicum (under the direction of Paul O’Dette), the Rochester Fringe Festival, and the University of Missouri Opera. In 2021, Patrick will return to Seagle Music Colony to sing Charles Ives in the world premiere of Russell Banks and Robert Carl’s new opera Harmony. His concert work includes Bach’s St. John Passion, Haydn’s The Seasons, and Liszt’s Missa Solemnis. In 2019, he was awarded the Una Creditor Encouragement Award at the Kansas City District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and in 2016 he won his division of the NATS National Student Auditions. Patrick is a proud graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the University of Missouri – Columbia.
Venezuelan bass-baritone Miguel Pedroza recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, studying under professor William McGraw and coaches Donna Loewy, Kathleen Kelly, and Marie-France Lefebvre. His engagements at the conservatory included Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (Sarastro), Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro (Figaro), and Cavalli’s La Calisto (Sylvano). Prior to his time at the conservatory, Miguel received a Bachelor’s in Vocal Performance from the University of Houston. Miguel has been contracted with Cincinnati May Festival, Opera in the Ozarks, and Opera in the Heights, with appearances in Milhaud’s Le Pauvre Matelot (Son Beau-Père), Cimarosa’s Il Matrimonio Segreto (Geronimo), and Bizet’s Carmen (Zuniga). He has performed as a chorus member with Cincinnati Opera and Houston Grand Opera and as a soloist in concerts across the US, including Bach’s Magnificat and St. Matthew Passion, Schubert’s Mass in G minor, and Mozart’s Spatzenmesse.
Bass Yi Yang is a Professional Study Program candidate at Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Maitland Peters. Previous credits include Le nozze di Figaro (Bartolo) with Shanghai Conservatory of Music and Showa University of Music, Così fan tutte (Don Alfonso) with the Deagu Opera House, La Bohème (Benoit & Alcindoro) with Lanzhou Symphony Orchestra, Aida (The King of Egypt) with Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra, I due Timidi (Narrator) and Emmeline (Henry Mosher)with Manhattan School of Music.
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini (UK: /pʊˈtʃiːni/ puu-CHEE-nee, US: /puːˈ-/ poo-; Italian: [ˈdʒaːkomo putˈtʃiːni]; 22 December 1858 – 29 November 1924) was an Italian opera composer who has been called “the greatest composer of Italian opera after Verdi“.
Puccini’s early work was rooted in traditional late-19th-century Romantic Italian opera. Later, he successfully developed his work in the realistic verismo style, of which he became one of the leading exponents.
Giuseppe Giacosa was born in Colleretto Parella, now Colleretto Giacosa, near Turin. His father was a magistrate. Giuseppe went to the University of Turin, studying in the University of Turin, Faculty of Law. Though he gained a degree in law, he did not pursue a legal career.
He gained initial fame for his play Una Partita a Scacchi (“A Game of Chess”) in 1871. His main field was playwriting, which he accomplished with both insight and simplicity, using subjects set in Piedmont and themes addressing contemporary bourgeois values. He wrote La signora di Challant (La Dame de Challant, The Lady of Challand), based on a novella by Matteo Bandello, for noted French actress Sarah Bernhardt, produced in New York in 1891.
Giacosa wrote the final polished version of the libretto for Giacomo Puccini‘s Manon Lescaut, which had been begun by Ruggero Leoncavallo, Marco Praga, Domenico Oliva, and Luigi Illica. He also wrote the librettos used by Puccini for La bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly in conjunction with Luigi Illica. Illica supplied the plot and dialogue, and Giacosa polished the libretto into verses. Also well as the one Act play of The rights of the soul“.
Luigi Illica (9 May 1857 – 16 December 1919) was an Italian librettist who wrote for Giacomo Puccini (usually with Giuseppe Giacosa), Pietro Mascagni, Alfredo Catalani, Umberto Giordano, Baron Alberto Franchetti and other important Italian composers. His most famous opera libretti are those for La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Andrea Chénier.
Illica was born at Castell’Arquato. His personal life sometimes imitated his libretti. The reason he is always photographed with his head slightly turned is because he lost his right ear in a duel over a woman. When silent films based on Illica’s operas were made, his name appeared in large letters on advertisements because distributors could only guarantee that his stories would be used, and not that they would be accompanied by the music of the appropriate composer.
As a playwright of considerable quality, he is today remembered through one of Italy’s oldest awards, the Luigi Illica International Prize founded in 1961, which goes to world famous opera singers, opera conductors, directors and authors. The Award is now awarded every two years and alternates with the Illica Opera Stage International Competition, which offers prizes and debut opportunities to young singers.
Kathleen Kelly is a pianist, conductor, educator, and writer – and like many classical musicians, a recent experimenter with digital content. She has appeared internationally as a recital pianist, including appearances at Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and Vienna’s Musikverein. She is a published poet and essayist, and has written several English adaptations of operas as well as several librettos. She was most closely associated with the San Francisco, Metropolitan, Houston Grand, and Vienna State Operas before joining the faculty of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in 2018.
Dennis Whitehead Darling
Dennis Whitehead Darling: Is an award-winning international stage director of theatre and opera based in Philadelphia. In 2018, Dennis was selected by Opera Memphis as their Inaugural McCleave Fellow in Directing. His recent directing credits include: Marian’s Song (Houston Grand Opera), The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (Red Mountain Theatre) Independence Eve (Opera Birmingham), Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill (Hattiloo Theatre/Spazio Teatro No’hma – Milan), Jelly’s Last Jam (Hattiloo Theatre), The Parchman Hour (Hattiloo Theatre), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Spazio Teatro No’hma – Milan), Intimate Apparel (University of Memphis), Movin’ Up in the World (Opera Memphis), Sunset Baby (Hattiloo Theatre), James and the Giant Peach (Circuit Playhouse), Blue Viola (Opera Memphis), Mr. Rickey Calls A Meeting (Hattiloo Theatre), Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet (Hattiloo Theatre). Observerships/Associate/Assistant Directing credits include: English National Opera (Jack The Ripper – Daniel Kramer), world and regional premieres of Lights Out: Nat “King” Cole (Geffen Playhouse, People’s Light Theatre), Triumph of Honor (Opera Memphis). Upcoming productions include: La Bohème (Opera Columbus), Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Carnegie Mellon), Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, starring Angie Stone (Hattiloo Theatre @ The Cannon Center), Sanctuary Road (North Carolina Opera), and The Secret River (Opera Orlando). For more information visit Dennis’ website: www.denniswhiteheaddarling.com
Brian Ruggaber is an award-winning scenic designer who is delighted to be designing La Bohème for Opera Columbus. Currently in his seventh year with the University of Memphis, he heads The Department of Theatre & Dance’s scenic design program and has designed scenery for over 160 productions including Opera, Drama, Musical Theatre, and Dance. His work has been seen in regional theatres, international festivals, and Off Broadway. He takes particular joy in developing work with diversity, equity, and inclusion as core themes. Prior to joining UM’s faculty, he was a Resident Scenic Design for The University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music and an Associate Professor of Design at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His students have successful careers in theatre, film, television, and themed entertainment. Brian is a proud member of United Scenic Artists Local 829, IATSE 492, and an active member of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT). He has an MFA from The University of Massachusetts and a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition to design, Brian has worked extensively in production and has manufactured scenery for commercial shops, television, and regional theatres.
Austin has recently received his MFA in Costume Design from the University of Maryland. Austin has worked in multiple capacities at a variety of venues including The Kennedy Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Signature Theatre, Cumberland County Playhouse, Arena Stage, Northern Stage, Maryland Opera Studio, Hattiloo Theatre, Ohio Light Opera, Opera Memphis, Folger Shakespeare Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Studio Theatre, Imagination Stage, Stagedoor Manor, Porthouse Theatre, Memphis School of Music, and the Tennessee Shakespeare Co. Favorite costume design credits include Cunning Little Vixen, Hamlet: Replayed, Sunset Baby, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Black Madonna & Miss America, Cosi Fan Tutte, Orlando, Little Shop of Horrors, Streetcar Named Desire, Cinderella, Nine, and Eurydice. Austin would like to thank the director, Dennis, for giving this amazing design opportunity during this challenging time. Website: www.abcdesigns.me
Danielle has worked as a freelance stage manager in opera, theatre, dance and special events for the last decade. Recent credits include La Bohème with More Than Musical, Tri-Cities Opera, Opera Omaha and Opera Columbus, Bernadette’s Cozy Book Nook (World Premiere with Fort Worth Opera), Zoom Speed Dating Tonight! (NYU & World Premiere with Brevard Music Center), Miranda: A Steampunk VR Experience (World Premiere with Tri-Cities Opera & Opera Omaha), Kanye West’s Mary at Lincoln Center and Pergolesi: Stabat Mater with Death of a Classic in the catacombs at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, NY. Other companies include: The Maltz Jupiter Theatre, Gulfshore Playhouse, TheatreZone, The Mother Line Story Project, On Site Opera, International Summer Opera Festival of Morelia, Lakes Area Music Festival, Brevard Music Center, Opera Grand Rapids, The Castleton Festival, Opera Naples, and Gulfshore Opera. Danielle received her MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. She is a proud member of The Actors Equity Association and American Guild of Musical Artists.
Credit: Terry Gilliam
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