The Royal Albert Hall hosts an unusual production of La Bohème over the coming week. Directed by Francesca Zambello, Giacomo Puccini’s passionate but tragic story of doomed love – originally set in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s – moves on 100 years, taking place in wartime Paris in this revival of Zambello’s hugely popular 2004 production.
Performed completely in the round, this production of La Bohème contrasts the vibrant café society of 1940s Paris with the harsh reality of the times. Moving from the chill of Rodolfo’s bleak lodgings, to the celebrations at the Café Momus, and back to the intimacy of the garret, the action reflects the tenderness, spectacle and passion which ultimately turn to despair and tragedy, interpreted through Puccini’s glorious score. It’s one of Puccini’s best loved and most widely performed operas, and includes some of his most beautiful arias – Che gelida manina, Si, Mi chiamano Mimi and O soave fanciulla.
For La Bohème, Francesca Zambello has brought together an award-winning creative team and a cast of internationally acclaimed artists. The role of Mimi will be shared by sopranos Jessica Rose Cambio, Alyson Cambridge and Danielle Pastin, and that of Rodolfo by Sean Pannikar, Rame Lahaj and James Edwards.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Musical Director, Oliver Gooch. Set design is by Peter J Davison and costumes are by Sue Wilmington. Choreography is by Arthur Pita, lighting by Andrew Bridge, and sound by Bobby Aitken.
A leading American opera and theatre director, Francesca Zambello made her debut in the US at the Houston Grand Opera in 1984 with a production of Fidelio, and in Europe at Teatro La Fenice with a production of Beatrice di Tenda in 1987. Since then she has staged new productions at major theatres and opera houses across Europe and the USA – including The Royal Opera House, the Paris Opéra and the San Francisco Opera – collaborating with exceptional artists and designers. Promoting emerging talent, she takes a special interest in new music theatre works, innovative productions, and opening up theatre and opera to a wider audience.
Winner of numerous prestigious awards, Francesca Zambello has recently developed and directed the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis’ Heart of a Soldier for the San Francisco Opera, where she served as Artistic Advisor from 2006-2011. Other recent opera projects have included the first international production of Carmen to be presented at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijiing, and the world premiere of An American Tragedy for the Metropolitan Opera.
La Bohème is presented by Raymond Gubbay and the Royal Albert Hall. It runs from 27th February to 9th March. Tickets are available from the Royal Albert Hall Box Office – 020 7838 3100 – or online at www.royalalberthall.com.