Before Roger, Mark, Collin, Maureen, and the Life Café hit Broadway and now the big screen; Rodolfo, Marcello, Colline, Musetta, and the Café Momus ruled the opera stage for a full century.
“Rent” is in fact an updated version of “La Boheme,” Puccini’s 1896 opera of romance dipped in tragedy, theatricality, and symphonic musicality. Though a Broadway mounting directed by Baz Luhrmann three years ago lasted only six months, the work is still presented annually by the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera.
Just as “Rent” is considered by many to be the epitome of contemporary, rock music-oriented musical theater, “La Boheme” allowed Puccini to be finally viewed in Europe as the long-awaited successor Verdi and new voice of Italian music. Though Jonathan Larson tragically died the night before the first “Rent” preview, Puccini went on to write “Tosca” and “Madama Butterfly.”
The current MET production, which will be presented tomorrow night in addition to upcoming dates in December, is a revival of a spectacular, time-tested vision by auteur Franco Zeffirelli. Chock full of realistic set designs, falling snow, and an unbelievably detailed crowd scene in Act Two, “La Boheme” offers entrance to the original Bohemia, presented as an unbelievable, lost world filled with passionate, heartfelt artists.
Though seeing a show in Italian with subtitles can be shocking for perhaps a teenager weaned on “Rent” and “Wicked,” the experience of something completely different like this will still register as a momentous experience. MET prices can be as steep as $220, but student tickets are available at $25, and general standing tickets go as low as $16.
Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, between West 62nd and 65th Streets at Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues, tickets start at $16, www.metopera.org. Sat 8pm.
According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.