Arts and Entertainment

Kitsap Opera gets to the root of a tragic love story

“La Boheme’s” protagonist, Rodolpho, is being played by Gino Lucchetti, center, in his first role with Kitsap Opera since “Faust” in 1997. - Phtoto by Bill Mickelson
“La Boheme’s” protagonist, Rodolpho, is being played by Gino Lucchetti, center, in his first role with Kitsap Opera since “Faust” in 1997.
— image credit: Phtoto by Bill Mickelson

For anyone who loved, enjoyed or watched with interest either the late-90s rock opera “Rent” or 2001’s “Moulin Rouge,” Kitsap Opera’s upcoming production will be a must see. The local opera house will be delving into those modern-day musicals’ 19th century Italian roots as it presents Giacomo Puccini’s masterpiece “La Boheme.”

In its third season in 1994, Kitsap Opera underwent its first production of the widely well-known operatic standard, now 13 years later the organization is bringing it back to the Admiral Theatre stage this weekend.

And it’s not just for Rent-and-Rouge-lovers, Kitsap Opera founder and “La Boheme” musical director Leone Cottrell-Adkins said, it’s got something for everyone.

“’La Boheme’ is the most beloved opera of all time,” she said. “People can relate to it in a lot of ways ... If people remember the beatniks and hippies, there’s a lot of that in there.”

Only rather than the long-haired, tie-dyed 1960s American scene, “La Boheme’s” “hippies” are in tumultuous 1840s France, freezing on Christmas Eve, burning manuscripts because they don’t have any money to pay for firewood.

Incidentally, they don’t have enough money to pay the rent, either. The story opens with a boisterous scene of four bohemians from the Garrett receiving a call for payment from their landlord, but instead of paying the man with money or excuses, they get him drunk on wine and send him back out the door. All the while chronicling the events with a fun-loving score.

“Puccini goes from all of that horseplay to the most lyrical music you’ll ever hear,” Cottrell Adkins said. “The lovers have such great music that requires great singers ... and we’ve got them.”

The story of this group of bohemians and their struggle to survive is carried along by two love stories involving two of the men from the Garrett. The opera’s prominent couple met by chance and fell in love one night when Mimi, the girl-from-downstairs, comes to ask Rodolpho (Gino Lucchetti) to re-light the candle for her house. He does, she thanks him and ventures back downstairs, only to return because she’s “lost her key.”

Rodolfo offers to help her look and soon both candles are out and the two are stumbling in the dark. Thus begins a love-story that will eventually tear each lover’s hearts in two, leaving one dead of disease.

On a much less emotional score is the relationship of Musetta (Cherie Hughes) and Marcello (Misha Myznikov).

Musetta, a diva of her day, has grown tired of not having nice things, so she leaves the broke bohemian painter for a rich old man who can afford to take her shopping.

But around the same time that Rodolfo and Mimi start romancing, Musetta comes back around.

“Marcello just kind of waits patiently for her to return,” Cottrell-Adkins said. “They are a very different couple.”

On the fringes of each couple’s relationship are the two other bohemians from the Garrett Schaunard (Ryan Bede) a musician and the only one of the crew who brings in much money and Colline (Michael Dunlap) a philosopher with little more than his wisdom ... and of course his theater-filling bass vocals.

In fact each one of the singers in the lead roles have impressed Cottrell-Adkins enough for her to say that this is one of the best casts she has ever worked with.

“I can say this cast is one of the most superb casts that I’ve ever had ... and I’ve had some great singers,” she said.

The operatic cocktail of these six mostly new faces to Kitsap Opera has will demonstrate the awe-inspiringness of opera, Cottrell-Adkins said.

“Opera is bigger than life, it encompasses about everything in the world,” she said. “The music is tremendous ... and it’s the kind of thing that (people) won’t see anywhere else on the peninsula.”

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