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La Boheme

La Bohème
April 24 & 25, 2010

REVIEW Rimrock Opera does it again by Dr. Ken Mueller

‘La Boheme’ becomes family affair for participants

Record number of students attend local opera

Study Guide

Rimrock Opera presents “La bohème,” beloved tale of tender love and bitter tragedy, on April 24 and 25 at the Alberta Bair Theater. Amy Logan, soprano, as the ill-fated Mimi, and Jeffrey Grant Kitto, tenor, as Rodolfo, the poet who loves her, are central characters amid the counterculture of young, undiscovered artists living in Paris attics, circa 1830. Puccini's incomparable masterpiece has inspired audiences for more than 100 years with its glorious melodies illuminating the eternal story of starving artists and star-crossed lovers in the Latin quarter of Paris. Fellow bohemians, Laura Loge, Jan Michael Kliewer, Dennis Rupp, Chris Sheppard, and Daren Small sing the tragic plot to its bittersweet conclusion with ravishing melodies and direct emotional appeal.

Barbara Day Turner conducts the Rimrock Opera Orchestra, Douglas Nagel is producer-director, and Sheppard prepares the chorus. Rimrock Opera’s Chorus for Kids (ROCK) performs as Paris street urchins. The opera is sung in Italian, with English projected above the stage.

Purchase your opera tickets for the Saturday evening, April 24, 7:30 show, or Sunday April 25, 3:00 PM matinee, at the Alberta Bair Theater box office, online at www.albertabairtheater.org

Schools Invited
RO offers a student matinee performance of La bohème, Thursday, April 22, at the Alberta Bair Theater. Individuals may also purchase tickets to the school matinee, beginning at 9:00 AM

Douglas Nagel, director and producer
Barbara Day Turner, conductor
Amy Logan, Mimi
Jeffrey Grant Kitto, Rodolfo
Laura Loge, Musetta
Jan Michael Kliewer, Marcello
Dennis Rupp, Colline
Chris Sheppard, Schaunard
Parpignol, TBA
Daren Small, Benoit
Daren Small, Alcindoro


Composer: Giacomo Puccini

ACT I. Paris, Christmas Eve, c. 1830. In their Latin Quarter garret, the painter Marcello and poet Rodolfo try to keep warm by burning pages from Rodolfo's latest drama. They are joined by their comrades — Colline, a young philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician who has landed a job and brings food, fuel and funds. But while they celebrate their unexpected fortune, the landlord, Benoit, arrives to collect the rent. Plying the older man with wine, they urge him to tell of his flirtations, then throw him out in mock indignation. As the friends depart for a celebration at the nearby Café Momus, Rodolfo promises to join them soon, staying behind to finish writing an article. There is another knock: a neighbor, Mimì, says her candle has gone out on the drafty stairs. Offering her wine when she feels faint, Rodolfo relights her candle and helps her to the door. Mimì realizes she has dropped her key, and as the two search for it, both candles are blown out. In the moonlight the poet takes the girl's shivering hand, telling her his dreams. She then recounts her solitary life, embroidering flowers and waiting for spring. Drawn to each other, Mimì and Rodolfo leave for the café.

ACT II. Amid shouts of street hawkers, Rodolfo buys Mimì a bonnet near the Café Momus before introducing her to his friends. They all sit down and order supper. A toy vendor, Parpignol, passes by, besieged by children. Marcello's former lover, Musetta, enters ostentatiously on the arm of the elderly, wealthy Alcindoro. Trying to regain the painter's attention, she sings a waltz about her popularity. Complaining that her shoe pinches, Musetta sends Alcindoro to fetch a new pair, then falls into Marcello's arms. Joining a group of marching soldiers, the Bohemians leave Alcindoro to face the bill when he returns.

ACT III. At dawn on the snowy outskirts of Paris, a Customs Officer admits farm women to the city. Musetta and revelers are heard inside a tavern. Soon Mimì walks by, searching for the place where the reunited Marcello and Musetta now live. When the painter emerges, she pours out her distress over Rodolfo's incessant jealousy. It is best they part, she says. Rodolfo, who has been asleep in the tavern, is heard, and Mimì hides; Marcello thinks she has left. The poet tells Marcello he wants to separate from his fickle sweetheart. Pressed further, he breaks down, saying Mimì is dying; her ill health can only worsen in the poverty they share. Overcome, Mimì stumbles forward to bid her lover farewell as Marcello runs back into the tavern to investigate Musetta's raucous laughter. While Mimì and Rodolfo recall their happiness, Musetta quarrels with Marcello. The painter and his mistress part in fury, but Mimì and Rodolfo decide to stay together until spring.

ACT IV. Some months later, Rodolfo and Marcello lament their loneliness in the garret. Colline and Schaunard bring a meager meal. The four stage a dance, which turns into a mock fight. The merrymaking is ended when Musetta bursts in, saying Mimì is downstairs, too weak to climb up. As Rodolfo runs to her, Musetta tells how Mimì has begged to be taken to her lover to die. While Mimì is made comfortable, Marcello goes with Musetta to sell her earrings for medicine, and Colline leaves to pawn his cherished overcoat. Alone, Mimì and Rodolfo recall their first days together, but she is seized with coughing. When the others return, Musetta gives Mimì a muff to warm her hands and prays for her life. Mimì dies quietly, and when Schaunard discovers she is dead, Rodolfo runs to her side, calling her name. -- courtesy of Opera News

Amy Logan
LARRY MAYER\Gazette Staff

 Amy Logan, who performs the role of Mimi, has two children who will also be on stage in the Rimrock Opera production of “La Boheme” — 9-year-old Jacob and 7-year-old Alyssa. The children’s father, Eric, is also involved in the staging as a prop builder.

LARRY MAYER\Gazette Staff
Rimrock Opera is staging La Boheme with Jeffery Grant Kitto, as Rodolfo and Jan Michael Kliewer as Marchello. April 2, 2010.

CASEY RIFFE/Gazette Staff
Amy Logan as Mimi and Jeffrey Grant Kitto as Rodolfo perform “La Boheme” for a special student matinee show at the Alberta Bair Theater on Thursday

CASEY RIFFE/Gazette Staff
Chorus members from Rimrock Opera's Chorus for Kids (ROCK) perform "La Boheme" for a special student show of the opera at the Alberta Bair Theatre Thursday, April 22, 2010.

CASEY RIFFE/Gazette Staff
"La Boheme" cast members, including Laura Loge as Musetta, center, and Daren Small as Alicindoro, center bottom, perform a special student show at the Alberta Bair Theatre Thursday, April 22, 2010.

CASEY RIFFE/Gazette Staff
Skyylar Staton rehearses the music of “La Boheme” with the Rimrock Opera Chorus for Kids. In addition to joining singer Rita Coolidge for her holiday show tonight at the ABT as well as its own concert on Saturday at Skyview High, the youth singing group will perform in the Rimrock Opera production of “La Boheme” this spring.

‘La Boheme’ becomes family affair for participants

JACI WEBB Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Friday, April 16, 2010 12:00 am

Nine-year-old Jacob Logan threw himself on the floor one night, thumping his fists in anger when his mom kissed another man.

Jacob wasn’t really upset that Jeff Kitto kissed his mom, Amy Logan, because even at 9, Jacob knew it was all acting. Amy says being around the high drama of opera for the last three years has rubbed off on Jacob, who is rehearsing for his third opera with Rimrock Opera Company, “La Boheme.” It opens next week at the Alberta Bair Theater.

“He got a big laugh, which is what he was going for,” said Amy, who plays Mimi in “La Boheme.”

His younger sister, 7-year-old Alyssa is also performing in “La Boheme” and their father Eric is building props.

Now in its 10th season, ROC has become a tradition for several families and a way for them to spend time together. Usually it starts when one family member dips a toe in, then another joins and pretty soon, the whole family is hooked.
For the Logans, it was Amy, choir director at Skyview High School, who first got interested in opera, but it was as a clarinetist in the orchestra pit.

“I was always the clarinet player who also sang,” Amy said. “I never thought I had that much to offer vocally. I was sort of surprised.”

Coincidentally, the first time she sang in an opera was in the chorus of “La Boheme” in 2005. Now, she’s playing one of the leads in the Puccini opera.

“It’s a total body sport. It’s so powerful, you sing from your toes,” Amy said. “It absolutely fills you from the inside out.”

 For the Ryan family, it was Kate, now a senior at Senior High School, who lured her folks, Shelly and Mike, onto the stage. “La Boheme” is the first opera all three will perform in and it will likely be their last as a trio because Kate is moving to Missoula to attend the University of Montana in the fall. Kate moved to Billings after finishing the eighth grade in California and was a bit put off by the serious choral music she was singing in high school. But then she discovered Rimrock Opera Chorus for Kids.

“I love to see the eyebrows raise when I say I’m going to opera rehearsal,” said Kate, 17.
Now Kate plans to minor in music.

In “La Boheme,” Kate plays three roles, including an ensemble number as a milk maid, her biggest role yet. Her parents each have about a half-hour on stage, but they’ve been working on that 30 minutes of music for almost half a year.

“Chris Sheppard created a CD for each of us enunciating all the Italian words. It sounds kind of goofy now, but it really helped in the beginning,” Mike Ryan said.

The opera will be sung in Italian with English supertitles projected above the stage. The Ryans have been attending operas for years and have seen productions in San Francisco, Sacramento and Denver. But they believe the ROC productions rank right up there with larger companies’ work because of the preparation and the guidance and commitment of general director Douglas Nagel.

“I appreciate things that are well done, and Billings operas are extremely well done,” Mike said. “We both come from blue-collar backgrounds — my dad’s a plumber — but our families all appreciate opera. I’d say, if you’ve never seen an opera before, this is the one to see. If you don’t like this one, well, you don’t like opera.”

The Bertin family, of Colstrip, was so excited to get involved in opera that they committed to driving over from Colstrip for weekday rehearsals starting in the middle of winter.

“The music is so exciting,” said Kate Bertin. “We’re tired and we’re driving and then we get there and say, ‘This is so amazing.’ ”

Like the Ryans, the Bertins got caught up in opera because of a son, Thain, who sang in “Carmen” and “The Barber of Seville.” Thain is now a student at Northwest College in Powell, Wyo., and his schedule won’t allow him to perform in “La Boheme,” but his younger brother, 13-year-old Kian, was ready for his shot. So were Kate; her husband, Jim; and their German exchange student, Finn Carlson. At least a couple nights a week, the foursome packs into their passenger car and makes the almost-300-mile round trip from Colstrip to Billings to sing. There is also plenty of singing going on en route.

“It is a big time investment and it is a financial investment, driving back and forth with gas at $3 a gallon,” Kate Bertin said. “But it’s been a great experience. It’s so fun to be doing it together.”

Record number of students attend local opera

JACI WEBB Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010 9:09 pm
A local star was born Thursday at the Alberta Bair Theater.

Skyview High School choral director Amy Logan brought in a large group of fans for the matinee performance of “La Boheme.” About a third of the 800 people who took in the production — 240 students — were from Skyview’s music program, and several said they were proud of Logan, who sang the soprano lead Mimi.

“Amy Logan is definitely an inspiration to us,” Skyview senior Stephen Seder said. “She’s quite a hero to the students.”
Even students who weren’t from Skyview were roaring their approval of Logan’s tender aria in the second act. Logan performed alongside another Montana native, Jeffrey Grant Kitto, who played Mimi’s suitor Ruldolfo.

“It’s way cool. I thought it was going to be kind of boring, but I really liked it,” said Rocky Mountain High School senior Melanie Wahlbrink.

Bass Dennis Rupp, a frequent performer in Rimrock Opera productions, played Colline the philosopher. In that role, he had a few comedic moments that made a nice respite from the tension of Mimi’s worsening condition as she grows weak from tuberculosis.
Rupp encouraged Logan to move from clarinetist in the orchestra pit to vocalist in the production. And over the last four years, Logan has taken on bigger and bigger roles. Baritone Chris Sheppard, choral director at Montana State University Billings, also moved from chorus director to one of the leads, Schaunard, in this production. Other leads were Jan Michael Kliewer as Marcello and Laura Loge as Musetta. Barbara Day Turner conducts the 27-piece orchestra.

More than two dozen Skyview students performed on stage and in the orchestra pit, including 12 members of the marching band, who wore their blue falcon uniforms and played music as they marched around the stage.

 Thursday’s matinee set attendance records for the largest audience at an opera school show.

“People were all the way into the upper balcony, which has never happened before at an opera school performance,” said ABT education director Bess Fredlund. “I think that it is because of the star Amy who  brought hundreds of kids. And the word is getting out that people can come to this show. St. Vincent Healthcare had 125 volunteers here.”

Students came from across the region, including Billings and Lockwood, Big Timber, Bridger, Cody, Wyo., Red Lodge, Rosebud, and Byron, Wyo.

ROC general director Douglas Nagel chatted to the audience during set changes Thursday, giving insight into what it takes to put on such a big production. Sets are trucked in from Utah, and the costumes were made for the cast by Westendorf Costume Emporium in Iowa. Henrietta V. Johnstone, who had a walk-on part in the café scene, has underwritten the cost of costuming and sets for ROC for many years, Nagel said.

“Just wait until you see the snow fall in the next act,” Nagel said.
Even though the audience knew it was coming, when the first flakes flew, one girl in the back row gasped, “Cool.”

CASEY RIFFE/Gazette Staff Amy Logan as Mimi and Jeffrey Grant Kitto as Rodolfo perform "La Boheme" for a special student show of the opera at the Alberta Bair Theatre Thursday, April 22, 2010.


 CASEY RIFFE/Gazette Staff Amy Logan as Mimi and Jeffrey Grant Kitto as Rodolfo perform "La Boheme" for a special student show of the opera at the Alberta Bair Theatre Thursday, April 22, 2010.

  CASEY RIFFE/Gazette Staff Students, including Olivia Bochy, 11, from Lockwood Middle School, enjoy a special performance of Rimrock Opera’s “La Boheme” at Alberta Bair Theater on Thursday.





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