La Femme Bohème

May 18—21
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Luigi Illica & Giuseppe Giacosa, Libretto
Tian Hui Ng, Conductor
Julia Mintzer, Stage Director


Sung in Italian with projected English titles


Arsenal Center for the Arts
321 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA

Against the backdrop of the Occupy Wall Street movement, our La Femme Boheme opens to a particular site of demonstration threatened by a massive corporate chain. The chain is preparing to build a franchise on the place that has become a home for its protesting community. The threat of destruction hangs over the community's members; they struggle to forget their impending loss through the creation of art and personal bonds.

The protestors have joined the movement for many different reasons. Some, like Mimi, are emblematic of the community itself, for whose needs the protestors are most urgently fighting. Some, like Marcello and Rodolfo, are outsiders, but their philosophical agreement and empathy for the protests’ principals have moved them to join it. Some, like Musetta, are attracted to the act of protesting and to the community formed by people passionately united in a cause. Others are there seeking artistic inspiration, journalistic fodder, a sense of belonging, or something—anything—to believe. Others yet were simply already there when the demonstration arrived. But these individuals are united in protest because if the franchise takes over this space, they are without a home and without support from what is inherently their found family.

Our production will explore how adversity and shared principles both bring people together and challenge those bonds. It will look at what people feel they can control and what they feel helpless fighting. It will examine the choices people can make when they feel forced into surrendering to impossibilities. Our principal cast will be entirely female, and all of the characters have been re-envisioned as women. The allows the audience to experience their relationships without defining them through the prism of gender or sexuality, and serves the dual purpose of providing novel and important opportunity to the many accomplished female singers in the Boston area. La Femme Boheme will be staged in the intimate Arsenal Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre and will use a reduced orchestration, bringing the audience into personal contact with the lives, struggles, and triumphs of the characters as their stories play out through Puccini’s magnificent score.

Season Sponsor: Action Bearing. Performed with permission from LOLA—Local Artists Local Opera Austin, TX.

Photo: Roy More of Control Images