The Houston Grand Opera is performing the Italian opera “La bohème” as it’s second repertoire back in the Wortham Theater Center. The performance is everything you would expect from a classical opera produced by a world-class opera house; amazing voices, dynamic acting and a story that captures part of what it means to be human.
“La bohème” alternates show nights with “The Flying Dutchman,” so Houstonians have two options to see the opera perform at its normal performance venue for the first time since Hurricane Harvey.
“La bohème” is a 1896 opera about making art and love. It follows a bohemian group of artists trying to live life to the fullest in nineteenth century Paris. In this case, Bohemian refers to the alternative lifestyle of impoverished artists, including free love and frugality. It’s sung in Italian with projected English translation.
Mimì (Nicole Heaston) and Rodolfo’s (Ivan Magrì) romance is a whirlwind of a love story. This love is the setting of an incredibly passionate duet in which Heaston and Magrì perform with all the fervent desire needed to take it to the greatest heights. Heaston is familiar with local stages as a Houston-based soprano and HGO alumna, while Magrì is making his debut at H-Town’s opera, he is Italian and perfect for the role of Rodolfo.
Soprano Pureum Jo and baritone Michael Sumuel also received training from the Houston Grand Opera and this performance is their professional debut as Musetta and Marcello. Jo displays some incredible acting as the multidimensional character of Musetta, a woman who is not shy about chasing what she wants. She wants an artist for a lover, an easy life and freedom to do what she wants — all of which are not necessarily compatible. Sumuel’s acting makes his character relatable and his baritone voice is glorious throughout the performance.
All the actors have amazing voices, their performances in “La bohème” is everything to expect and love from a classical opera. The story of “La bohème” itself captures to bohemian wish to capture the hope, thrill and heartbreak of life and true love.
The Houston Grand Opera is showing “La bohème” through Nov. 11. First-time opera-goers can get $15 tickets, and patrons 25 and younger can pay their age. Street parking is free downtown after 6 p.m. and all day Sunday, while the Theater District Parking Garage is $12.