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Two Chicago based companies Ouroboros Opera and The Valkyrie Ensemble will join forces to produce the Chicago Premiere of La Femme Bohème – the beloved Puccini opera La Bohème with a twist. The six main characters are all female and non-binary performers. The unique interpretation of the opera is enhanced by an equally unique performance venue. Popular Andersonville bookstore Women and Children First provides an intimate and “Bohemian” setting for the grand opera. Performances are Friday, August 25 & Saturday, August 26 at 7:30 PM at Women and Children First bookstore 5233 N. Clark St. in Andersonville. Due to the size of the venue, seating is extremely limited. Tickets are $25 general admission; $15 for industry professionals, and are available for purchase now on Eventbrite.
La Bohème, one of the most often performed operas in the modern canon, explores the lives of a group of Parisian artists experiencing enduring friendship, turbulent romantic relationships, and ultimately tragedy as they dodge bills, skip rent payments, and attempt to carve out a life for themselves as artists. In traditional productions, the four Bohemian roommates- poet Rodolfo, painter Marcello, musician Schaunard, and philosopher Colline are played by men while the female characters – Mimì and Musetta- are defined entirely by their relationship status to the men. By recasting all of the six main characters as femme, La Femme Bohème allows all Puccini’s vivid characters to take on new dimensions and agency. La Femme Bohème was first produced by Austin based opera company LOLA.
Conducted by Alexis Enyart and directed by Paige Dirkes-Jacks the ensemble cast features soprano Angela Born as Mimì; soprano Alannah Spencer as Rodolfo; mezzo-soprano Beck Buechel as Marcello; soprano Marnie Baylouny as Musetta; mezzo-soprano Tracey Furling as Schaunard; contralto Angela Torres-Kutkuhn as Colline; baritone Jeremiah Strickler as Benoît/Alcindoro; and Molly Clementz as Parpignol. Pianist Lillia Woolschlager takes on the role of the orchestra.