Opera Australia to premiere a 70’s inspired production of La Bohème this week

Opera Australia's La Boheme photo by Daniel BoudOpera Australia is embarking on its 28th annual National Tour with a brand-new production of Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, travelling more than 5,000kms across Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania from 12 July to 3 September this year.

Award-winning director Dean Bryant brings his trademark wit and vivacity to this new staging, working with set and costume designer Isabel Hudson and lighting designer Damien Cooper, to place this enduring love story in the bohemian 1970s.

Bryant, who grew up in the Victorian town of Shepparton, one of this year’s tour dates, says that La Bohème explores universal human experiences and is keen to impress the value of taking high quality live theatre to audiences outside the capital cities.

“This is a story about a group of young artists dealing with all the huge things in life for the first time. Growing up in regional Australia, I had the same passion and urgency to be heard, to fall in love, to live, so it’s particularly exciting for me to be taking this production, set in Paris in the 1970s, across the country, including to Shepparton where I started making theatre,” said Bryant.

A cast of brilliant Opera Australia singers and musicians will breathe fresh life into one of the world’s favourite operas including sopranos Danita Weatherstone and Maia Andrews sharing the role of Mimì, tenors John Longmuir and Nick Kirkup as Rodolfo, sopranos Cathy-Di Zhang and Jane Magão as Musetta and baritone Andrew Williams as Marcello.

Conductor Simon Bruckard will lead the cast, touring orchestra and Regional Children’s Chorus through Puccini’s soaring score which will enthral first time opera goers and seasoned audiences alike. A highlight of the national tour is the inclusion of local children’s choirs in each of the tour locations.

Under the direction of Children’s Chorus Master Su Choung, and working in advance with choirs based in each town, the students then join the cast for rehearsals before taking to the stage, which is for many their first taste of performing in front of an audience.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to experience the wonder of music and the arts,” said Opera Australia Artistic Director, Jo Davies. “Opera Australia’s National Tour provides regional and remote audiences access to outstanding operatic performance which fosters a sense of community spirit through a shared artistic experience.”

“Working with communities across Australia to present La Bohème – and to facilitate music education activities as part of the tour – is a privilege and a joy.”

Since 1996 Opera Australia has toured more than 690 fully-staged performances to more than 330,000 people in 119 locations across metropolitan and regional Australia. This is an essential activity in broadening the reach of Australia’s national opera company and increasing access to world-class live opera performances, particularly for audiences who live in regional and remote locations.

The national tour of La Boheme commences at the Drum Theatre Dandenong on 12 & 13 July 2024. For more information and full touring schedule, visit: www.opera.org.au for details.

Image: Cathy-Di Zhang as Musetta and John Longmuir as Rodolfo in Opera Australia’s new production of La Bohème – photo by Daniel Boud