10/04/2011

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LA BOHEME Dear friends,<br /><br />As you may or may not know by now, one of the varied musical hats I wear is that of Music Director of Longwood Opera. To properly conclude this, our 25th consecutive season, it is with great pleasure indeed that I invite you all to attend one of our only 2 performances of Puccini's timeless and primal opera, La Boheme. Themes of new love, end of love, death, springtime, good times all wrapped up in a score that remains a cornerstone of the operatic repertoire since its premiere 121 years ago.<br />Having heard over 200 young singers in last year's auditions, I can safely say that we have fielded an unusually fine cast of young singers. These are the people of whom we will all be saying "I knew them when...."<br />Scott Brumit's experienced and adept staging cuts to the true essentials of telling the story. While not as updated as a recent take of this story entitled "Rent", Puccini's Boheme nevertheless remains timeless in our own contemporary Parisian setting. Do not worry about understanding French or Italian here, this masterpiece of Italian opera set in Paris is, like all our Longwood Opera productions, sung in clearly understood English.<br />In less than 2 hours an entire world of human emotion is displayed here in a concise treatment of the original short story. (Unlike Richard Wagner, who would have taken 4 hours to tell the story and add layers of mythic national consciousness, Puccini works quickly.) Its kind of hard to imagine a dry eye after this show, even in the worst of performances, because it is so elemental and basic. Folks with a knowledge of "Rent" know what I mean).<br />There are only 2 performances of this opera as we no longer take our shows on the road. Please refer to <a href="http://www.longwoodopera.org/">http://www.longwoodopera.org/</a> for specific ticket information.<br />Needless to say, I look forward to greeting as many PACC folk as possible at the conclusion of the performance.<br />If one has never attended an opera, if one knows nothing about this art form, indeed even if one dislikes opera because of inherent stereotypes of fat and screaming singers in a foreign language, this work (and I daresay our own production) is the very best possible introduction to the incredibly rich world of the art form called "opera".<br />I hope to see you!<br /><br />All very best,<br />Jeffrey Brody<br />
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The Death of Live Theatre as I know it If this had only occurred once this week, I would have shrugged and said, "Oh well." But I have now heard the same thing from three unrelated people, so I felt an urge to write something in the Longwood Opera blog. Maybe someone will read it. Maybe someone will have a solution to offer. Maybe not.<br /><br />"Ohhhh! I LOVE LA BOHÈME!!!! OOOOH! It is one of my favorite operas! Sorry I can't go, but I already have tickets for the Met HD this weekend."<br /><br />"Really? What Met HD are you going to see?"<br /><br />"Unh, I'm not sure, but it is the Met HD and should be really good. Don't you think so?"<br /><br />"I am sure it will be splendid, but it is not the same as live intimate theatre which is what we do."<br /><br />"Maybe not, but it is the Met HD and it is live streaming! So it will be just like being there, without having to travel and the theatre is only about 10 minutes from my house with free parking!"<br /><br />Well indeed the new production of Donizetti's Anna Bolena is sold out in NYC, but one can still go on-line and buy tickets for $23 (senior discount) at eight locations around the Boston area or splurge for the Lux level and pay $33.50 and for this Saturday.<br /><br />Visiting the Legacy Mall theatre in Dedham on-line for the production, 60K people have already pressed their "like" buttons.<br /><br />What's a small opera company to do? How can we compete at this level. Granted the Met HD is prime time Saturday at 1:00pm and we are performing Friday evening and Sunday afternoon, so there is no conflict of date or time. I forgot to add. Our performance of La Bohème runs a little over two hours including one intermission. The Donizetti (according to the on-line information) runs 4 hours and 20 minutes.<br /><br />But the end of the story goes like this:<br /><br />"Sorry! I cannot go to an opera twice in one weekend. It is too costly and I don't have time in my busy schedule to attend two productions the same weekend."<br /><br />Let's take my predicament a bit further. What is live theater? If you are sitting in a theater, watching a streaming performance, that is occurring somewhere else on the planet at the same time, are you really experiencing live theater? If you are sitting at home, watching something on Netflix, cable, or on your computer, is it the same as sitting somewhere else and doing the same thing?<br /><br />What are you going to do this coming weekend? You have lots of choices. As an operaphile, I hope you watch at least one opera this weekend. As a producer of live theatre, I hope you get out of your house and see something live and in person. As the general director of Longwood Opera, I hope you attend our performance of La Bohème at Christ Episcopal Church in Needham on Friday at 8:00pm or Sunday at 2:30pm. This just might be one of your last chances to see local, live opera performed by local, living young singers. This unique experience is priceless.<br /><br />J. Scott Brumit<br /><br />

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