The opera classic "La Boheme" gets a modern makeover at the Ula Love Doughty Carousel Theatre.
Directed by James Marvel and conducted by Kevin Class, "La Boheme" is one of the most performed and well-known Italian operas that tells the story of life and love mimicking a Shakespearean tragedy, but Marvel is putting a spin on the opera classic.
The original production premiered in Turin, Italy in 1896 and follows the telling of a timid seamstress, Mimi, and a zealous poet, Rodolfo, in a bohemian Paris. Yet Marvel, UT's opera director, doesn't only bring a classic Italian tale to students, but also provides an upgraded rendition to the storyline.
This isn't the first time Marvel has updated an opera. He did so with "The Marriage of Figaro," billed as "Mozart's Only Opera About Elvis."
"Musically, it's not any different. All the music and all the translations are very true to the story. The setting is very different," Jennifer Sohl, a first year graduate student in music, said. Sohl plays Mimi, the lead female role.
Sohl elaborated about the setting of the play.
"TVs (are) everywhere. Sometimes the power works, sometimes it doesn't. Everyone's very fashion forward," she said. "It's definitely much more of an appeal to a general audience that doesn't know much about opera."
Two arias, or melodies, were needed for the auditions. Graduate students were able to audition first, followed by undergraduates.
"It's set forth in the curriculum that we audition, and the roles are assigned according to our voice type," said Marshall Rollings, first year graduate student in music, plays the role of Rodolfo. He completed his undergraduate at UNC Greensboro.
"I think it's a good first opera. People will probably recognize some of the music and pick out the tunes," said Rollings. "It's double cast, I share the role with another guy, he'll sing one night and I'll sing another."
Rollings and Sohl stuck with one another as first year graduate students in the music program. Rollings offered some insight into the auditions, saying, "It was a good week until the cast list went up ... It wasn't your typical timeframe, it was a lot of hours going into learning the music before the staging process."
Rylee Billings, freshman in mathematics, played the cello at his high school in a performance of "The Phantom of the Opera."
"I would recommend this opera to those if they are interested in a story," said Billings. "The music adds a component of drama to the scene — it helps the audience to understand how the characters feel."
"La Cenerentola" by Gioachino Rossini is Rollings's favorite opera. As the story of "Cinderella," Rollings said the story can relate to it, but "La Boheme" steps away from a fantastical tale and instead centers around real life problems.
"It's nice to branch out, but my go to operas end up being comical, less tragic, but it's still a fantastic, fantastic show," Rollings said. "It's really enjoyable and funny, you'll laugh, you'll cry, but mostly cry," joked Sohl.
Performances are Friday and Monday at 8 p.m. and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for students. You can catch Sohl and Rollings performing on Sunday and Monday night.