Monday, March 16, 2020

Listen now to the La bohème podcast

Seattle Opera presents La bohème starring Angel Blue as Mimì. Philip Newton photo
With many people staying at home, now is the perfect time for a new podcast episode. Enjoy La bohème 101, a deep dive into opera’s quintessential love story with Seattle Opera dramaturg Jonathan Dean. Learn about Puccini’s music, the history of the opera, and more, all from the comfort of your home.

“It almost seems unnecessary to introduce this work. La bohème has been one of the world’s most beloved operas since 1896. Its music is both familiar and extremely easy on the ear. And the opera is virtually indestructible. The only time I’ve ever seen Bohème NOT work was before an audience consisting entirely of middle-school students, who really didn’t appreciate all its lovey-dovey, romantic stuff. They’ll figure it out someday.

La bohème is about young people—well, not that young, they’re not tweens. They might be college-age, maybe in their 20s; the point is, it’s about characters who are not yet responsible for the three Ms: matrimony, mortgage, and munchkins. It’s not about us, older people, limited by the cares and burdens of ordinary adult life; but it’s for us. La bohème is an impossibly brilliant exercise in nostalgia. For older people, its a reminder of how alive we used to feel—and a reminder of why that life was unsustainable.

There isn’t really a plot to La bohème. It’s basically an episode of Friends, or maybe it’s Real World Seattle. The cast list includes four roommates, two of whom have girlfriends: Rodolfo and Mimì are the inseparable, co-dependent pair; Marcello and Musetta the ones who express their affection by fighting all the time. La bohème is not a tragedy, technically. I always feel like a heartless monster when I say that, because it is really sad, and most of us are in tears by the time you get to the end. But technically, tragedy is a theatrical form where something awful happens and it’s your own fault. What happens in La bohème isn’t anybody’s fault, it’s just life. Life is happy and sad in equal parts, and what’s so brilliant about La bohème is how it presents both, in perfect balance.” —Seattle Opera Dramaturg Jonathan Dean

For more, tune in to the Seattle Opera podcast episode: La bohème 101. 

The Seattle Opera Podcast is for everyone. Are you an opera newbie (or maybe need a refresher)? Check out the SO’s opera 101 lessons. These short and entertaining overviews are a great place to start. Already an opera fan? Check out episodes that take a deeper dive into the operas. This podcast is a co-production of Seattle Opera and KING FM. Subscribe on iTunes. La bohème plays May 2–19, 2020 at McCaw Hall.