Adam Fisher as Rodolfo and Michaela Chiste as Mimi in Mercury Opera's production of "La Boheme." // Courtesy of Mercury Opera

Mercury Opera to deliver intimate production of La Boheme

La Boheme
Mercury Opera; Chez Pierre Cabaret; Wed., Feb. 27 – Sat., Mar. 9; Italian with subtitles.

Mercury Opera offers its audiences an immersive experience in smaller venues, and its production of Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme will not be an exception. Tenor Adam Fisher and soprano Andrea Gedrasik are excited to share an intimate evening of music with everyone who comes out.

La Boheme is the opera that inspired the musical Rent, and to describe the plot in brief, four artists  live together and struggle to make a living. One of them, Rodolfo, falls in love with a young woman named Mimi, and another, Marcello, reconnects with his old flame, Musetta. Things between Mimi and Rodolfo, and Marcello and Musetta eventually go bad, but it all culminates in a bitter-sweet reunion.

Fisher, who plays Rodolfo, emphasizes how very immediate the Mercury Opera production will be.

“The setting is in a very intimate space, and it’s about making a very intimate space for people who are coming to see opera,” he says. “With Boheme having the pedigree that it does, you get an opportunity to experience the show in a very up close way.”

The production is set circa 1979, and Gedrasik—playing Musetta—explains that the costuming, props and sets will reflect that, but hopefully so will the audience.

“We’re hoping that people will also get into the spirit: come in costume, dress up in their best ’70s [attire], have a great night out,” she says.

She adds that there are scenes where the audience members, who will be seated around Chez Pierre Cabaret, will be the patrons in the bar the friends frequent.

The cast of La Boheme has had a rather short rehearsal period, so everyone had to come into it knowing their parts. Both Fisher and Gedrasik were familiar with La Boheme before being cast, but had never actually performed in it. Both say it’s an opera they’ve always wanted to be part of.

“This is a role I have wanted to play since I was about 19,” Gedrasik says.

She’s drawn to La Boheme for its music, which she describes as “very lush, and it’s very grand, and it’s so expressive.”

“Puccini had a gift for writing beautiful melodies that immediately catch your ear and have a lasting impact, even though the music itself is, in some respect, through composed—it’s essentially written like a film score. There’s not one moment where it’s like ‘Oh, here’s the song and then we’re going to have a bit of dialogue’; it’s all sort of part of one big cohesive musical experience from the first bar to the last,” Fisher adds.

While they both appreciate La Boheme for its music, Fisher and Gedrasik play very different parts in the show.

Fisher describes Rodolfo as someone who wants to make connections. When he finally does make a connection with Mimi, it ends in tears.

“I think the tragedy is that they can’t get over their own, shall we say, social stature, to allow themselves to just enjoy each other for who they are,” he says.

Musetta, on the other hand, is a firecracker, but also very human.

“There’s a wonderful scene where she sells her earrings so that Mimi can get some kind of medical care,” Gedrasik explains.

She also gives Mimi a gift, but generously says that it came from Rodolfo instead.

“And it’s a wonderful turning point, and … as an actor it’s the kind of moment that you want. You want to be able to say ‘But here’s this deeper part of this character.’”

This is the first time both Fisher and Gedrasik have worked with Mercury Opera.

Fisher moved to Edmonton to be with his sweetheart, and often travels to perform outside of the city. He’s also worked with Edmonton Opera, and will be appearing in their upcoming production of Count Ory, and will star as Candide in the operetta of the same name next season.

Gedrasik is from Lethbridge, but has been abroad singing on cruise ships. The experience included singing arias from Puccini and Verdi while sailing down the Grand Canal out of Venice.

“That remains one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had,” she says.

Both Fisher and Gedrasik encourage people to come out, whether you’ve seen La Boheme before or not.

“Anyone coming to see the show, if they have expectations, they’re going to get an extremely intimate performance of a show they might have known or have seen before, and it will be new for them,” Fisher says.

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