Puccini's ‘La Bohéme’ Comes to USM Stage

HATTIESBURG, MS (THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI) – A stunning new opera production about love and romance comes to The University of Southern Mississippi Mannoni Performing Arts Center Nov. 9 and 11.

The four-act Italian tragedy-drama, "La Bohéme" will take to the stage for two performances only beginning at 7:30 p.m. each evening. The Southern Miss adaptation is presented by the Southern Opera and Musical Theatre Company with the Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra.

Originally composed by Giacomo Puccini, "La Bohéme" is one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide. Production manager Jennifer Hart feels "La Bohéme" is the perfect production for first-time opera goers to experience.

"It's shorter than many operas," Hart explained. "It's a funny and touching story all at once. Also, the storyline has been used in other notable productions such as Broadway's 'Rent'."

Although the opera is performed in Italian, English subtitles will be provided on a screen above the stage to help audiences understand the story.

"La Bohéme" tells a poignant story about a community of starving artists in 1830 Paris, France. Rodolfo, a poet, forms a romantic relationship with a mortally ill seamstress named Mimi. Their love affair experiences ups and downs caused by Mimî's flirtatious nature, but Rodolfo finds it hard to leave her because she has a fatal illness.

With the combination of a melodic score, period costumes, clever sets and stellar performances by a talented cast of Southern Miss students, audiences can expect a dynamic opera experience. This particular opera has only been staged in Hattiesburg once before, according to Dr. Jay Dean, music director for the Symphony Orchestra.

"Southern Miss put on "La Bohéme" back in 1971 I believe. On top of the entertainment value, this is an extraordinary opportunity for our students to sing this to help prepare them for a professional career," Dean said.

Students like senior vocal performance major Mattie Obergon from Marion, Va., jumped at the chance to audition for this performance. Obergon, who plays the role of Mimi, heard about the Southern Miss Vocal Performance program and decided to transfer from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

"I had a teacher in Virginia who sent some students to audition here and he suggested I come as well, so I did," she said. "Southern Miss fit like a glove. Working on things like 'La Bohéme' proves I made the right decision. I've been here for three years and I love it."

Tickets to "La Bohéme" are available online at www.southermisstickets.com or by calling 601.266.5418. For more information, call 601.266.4001.

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