Up close opera comes to the theatre with Puccini show

La Boheme

La Boheme - Credit: Archant

Resident theatre company OVO are venturing into opera with performances of Puccini’s La Bohème at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans next Thursday and Friday, November 27 and 28.

It is a fully staged performance in English of the opera which is recommended to opera virgins with its combination of a relatable central story (struggling writer meets seamstress and falls in love) and sublime music.

By taking the show out of its more usual grand theatre setting, OVO will be joining the trend for ‘opera up close’ where audiences feel part of the action.

Director Janet Podd explained: “I wanted to take advantage of the intimate studio space and involve the audience as much as possible. In Act Two, which takes place in a café, the audience can choose to sit at tables and chairs set on the stage – with wine provided!”

She has also chosen to transpose Puccini’s 1830 Paris setting to the Paris of 1946.

“The Second World War has just finished and Paris is experiencing its worst winter on record, with high levels of unemployment, rationing and power cuts. However, it’s also a period of immense intellectual and creative activity.

“It’s the Paris of Picasso and Matisse, of Simone de Beauvoir and Sartre. I felt that the central characters, the writer, Rodolfo, the musician Schaunard, the philosopher Colline and the artist Marcello, were perfectly placed in this new and exciting time.”

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Musical director, David Podd, who composed the music for OVO’s recent production of Imogen de la Bere’s Boudicca, has brought together singers including Helen Julie Johnson (Mimi) who has performed leading roles at the Minack Theatre, Cornwall, and the Lyric, Hammersmith and Patrick Ashford (Rodolfo) who has worked for Scottish Opera and sang Fenton with Bryn Terfel as Falstaff for Grange Park Opera.

Performance start at 8pm and tickets at £14 can be purchased online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/ovo or by calling the box office on: 0333 666 3366.