In January, UVU’s Noorda Center for the Performing Arts put on the opera “La Boheme,” a production detailing the tragic love story of a poet and a seamstress living a Bohemian lifestyle in nineteenth-century France.
This was a great opportunity for UVU theatre students. They were able to perform alongside tenor Isaac Hurtado and soprano Marina Costa-Jackson, current working professionals in the industry. Since its inception, UVU has worked to provide hands-on experience for its students in order to prepare them for after graduation and this is a great example of that commitment.
Heading into the third year of the pandemic, “La Boheme” provided a breath of fresh air and a healthy dose of connection for those who attended. It was mesmerizing to watch the actors fill the theatre with their voices, sweeping up the audience and whisking them away to 1830s Paris. Subtitles of a sort were provided on a screen above the stage, but they were almost superfluous. Most of the context the audience needed was given through the actors’ performances and the tone of the music.
Considering what many people have been through recently, “La Boheme” was like a spoonful of sugar, helping the sometimes bitter medicine of life go down. The lighting and costuming was vibrant and colorful. The sets were placed at an odd angle, providing a cartoonish feel. This production dealt with heavy, universal themes like suffering, love, betrayal, jealousy and poverty, in a unique way using a comedic tone. There is a sentiment that sometimes one’s only options are to either laugh or cry and “La Boheme” lets its audience know it’s okay to laugh.
Most of the humor in La Boheme comes from character interaction. Sometimes it feels wrong to laugh at these silly people making what seems to the audience to be obvious mistakes, but maybe the audience laughs because they can see themselves in the production. The actors brought the characters to life, making them relatable and likeable.
One would be remiss to see an opera and not note the music. “La Boheme” had a fantastic orchestra and conductor. The score was energetic and constantly shifting and the orchestra kept up very well. Sometimes audiences can get tired of a play and look for an intermission, but “La Boheme” didn’t have that problem. It was quick moving, with only one to three scenes between acts. With four acts and an intermission between each one, the audience was eager to sit down and see what happened next.
Art is meant to be relatable, to explore the commonalities we all share. Viewers connected to the opera, even though most don’t speak a word of Italian and the setting is France 200 years ago. “La Boheme” was a stellar production, and UVU should be proud of it.