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Love Blossoms in Paris, Amid the Revels and Hardships of a Group of Young Bohemians, as Dayton Opera Presents Puccini’s La Bohème

DAYTON, OH (October 20, 2019) – On Friday, November 15, 2019 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, November 17, 2019 at 3 p.m. in the Mead Theatre of the Schuster Center, Dayton Opera, under the leadership of Artistic Director Thomas Bankston, will present Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, the opera presentation of the 2019–2020 Titans Season. This opera will be sung in Italian with English surtitles.

Principal Sponsor for this production is the ELM Foundation. Associate Sponsor is 10 Wilmington Place. DPAA’s Innovation Partner for the 2019–2020 Titans Season is the DP&L Foundation—Powering Innovation in the Performing Arts.

Love blossoms amid the revels and hardships of a group of young Bohemians renting a Parisian garret – a budding painter, an impractical poet, a philosopher, and a musician. While the artists struggle with inspiration, cold, finances, and their crotchety landlord, fate arrives for Rodolfo, the poet, in the gentle form of Mimi, a seamstress whose candle has blown out. What ensues is sheer opera magic, studded with some of the most recognizable arias in the repertoire.

Returning to Dayton Opera for an astounding sixteenth time to direct Puccini’s masterwork is the insightful and creative Gary Briggle. Gary was most recently in Dayton last season to direct the comedic operetta The Pirates of Penzance, a production in which he also reprised his role as the lyrically verbose Major-General Stanley, a character he has mastered after countless appearances across the country. In the past, he has tackled some of Dayton Opera’s most challenging productions, including the unique presentation of Stella Sung’s The Book Collector paired with Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in May 2016, as well as the groundbreaking Dayton premiere of Dead Man Walking in February 2015. Gary returns to Dayton once again in May 2020 as stage director for Dayton Opera’s look back to the origins of opera in Going for Baroque!

Puccini’s luscious score comes to life through the masterful playing of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Conductor Patrick Reynolds. Reynolds is Associate Conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Conductor of the Dayton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and conductor and Professor of Music at the University of Dayton. This is his fifth conducting assignment with Dayton Opera, the most recent being Menotti’s The Consul in 2017.

Making his Dayton Opera debut in the role of Rodolfo, the poor poet at the center of this tragic love story, is tenor Matthew Vickers. He received his vocal training from the young artist programs at Virginia Opera, Sarasota Opera, and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. His recent appearances include Cavaradossi in Tosca at Virginia Opera, Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly at Opera Memphis, Canio in I Pagliacci at the Savannah Music Festival, and Arnold in Guillaume Tell at Opera Southwest. He has been praised for his “brilliant and golden voice” (Die Kleine Zeitung) and his “burnished sound and confident acting” (National Post).

Dayton Opera is thrilled to welcome back soprano Kasia Borowiec, who was one of Dayton Opera’s talented young Artists-in-Residence (AIR) in the 2015-2016 season. During that time, she graced the Schuster Center stage as Kate Pinkerton in Dayton Opera’s May 2016 production of Madame Butterfly. Kasia most recently completed two additional prestigious young artist residencies at the Santa Fe Opera and Palm Beach Opera, and appeared as Cio-Cio San in Madame Butterfly at Tri-Cities Opera. Praised for her “beautiful singing” and named a “standout” by Opera News, Kasia has quickly established herself as a young singer to watch. She performs the role of the tender seamstress Mimi, the object of young Rodolfo’s affections in La Bohème.

Returning to Dayton Opera in the role of the fiery Musetta is soprano Zulimar López-Hernández in a role that she has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, London, and at Virginia Opera. Other recent appearances include Pamina in The Magic Flute at Utah Opera, Tina in Flight at Des Moines Metro Opera, and Maria in West Side Story at the Newport Music Festival. Zulimar was last with Dayton Opera as soloist for the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance’s New Year’s Eve: Fiesta! this past December. She is celebrated for her lustrous timbre and charismatic portrayals of a wide range of roles.

Former Dayton Opera Artist-in-Residence (AIR) baritone Kenneth Stavert returns to the stage in the role of the starving artist Marcello. Kenneth has performed some memorable roles with Dayton Opera since his time as an AIR, including Ping in the 2018 production of Turandot, Silvio in the 2017 production of I Pagliacci, and Papageno in the 2015 production of The Magic Flute. Praised for his strong “sense of theatricality,” Kenneth has performed on operatic, concert and recital stages throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.

Also making his Dayton Opera debut in the role of the struggling musician Schaunard is baritone De’ron McDaniel. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. At the Wolf Trap Opera he has been a Studio Artist, and he is a former first prize recipient in the Opera Guild of Dayton College Vocal Competition.

Returning again to Dayton Opera is former Artist-in-Residence bass Vincent Grana in the role of young philosopher Colline, a role he has recently performed at Opera Santa Barbara. Vincent was just recently on stage as soloist in this year’s DPAA Season Opening Spectacular, Haydn’s Creation, and was Zuniga in Dayton Opera’s 2017 Carmen. In 2013, Mr. Grana was named a Philadelphia District winner in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and is making a name for himself as a rising young bass in the opera world.

Returning for his eleventh appearance at Dayton Opera in the double role of Benoit/Alcindoro is bass-baritone Thomas Hammons. With a long and distinguished career at the Metropolitan Opera and companies throughout the U.S., he brings his acclaimed comedic skills to these two roles. His most recent roles at Dayton Opera were Mr. Kofner in The Consul and Dr. Bartolo in The Barber of Seville, both in the 2017-2018 season. He will return later this season in the role of Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola (Cinderella).

Members of the supporting cast of La Bohème and also members of the Dayton Opera Chorus include Parpignol, tenor Mark Hanson; Sergeant, bass-baritone Ben Flanders; and Customs Officer, bass Michael Taint.

The ever-versatile members of the Dayton Opera Chorus, under the direction and leadership of Chorus Master Jeffrey Powell, take to the stage again to add their choral expertise.

Resident lighting designer John Rensel will light this production, which comes from the Des Moines Metro Opera, designed by set designer Robert Little. Wig and makeup designers are Cassandra Brake and Thomas Venditelli.

Audiences should be prepared to laugh, cry, and revel in all the festive activity at Café Momus. It is clear why La Bohème remains Puccini’s most popular opera and ranks in the world’s top three opera favorites.

Want to learn even more about La Bohème? Come one hour prior to both performances to hear pre-performance talks presented by UD Music Professor Dr. Sam Dorf inside the Mead Theatre.

Tickets for La Bohème begin at $30 and are available by calling Ticket Center Stage at (937) 228-3630 or by visiting www.daytonperformingarts.org. Senior, student, and military discounts are available. For more information on tickets, or how to subscribe to the 2019-2020 Titans Season, visit www.daytonperformingarts.org.

About the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance was formed in July 2012 as the result of a groundbreaking and innovative merger between the Dayton Ballet, the Dayton Opera, and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Together, they are the largest performing arts organization in the community, offering a tremendous variety of performance and education programs and setting a new standard for artistic excellence.  Dayton Performing Arts Alliance performances are made possible in part by Montgomery County and Culture Works, the single largest source of community funds for the arts and culture in the Miami Valley. The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance also receives partial funding from the Ohio Arts Council, a state agency created to foster and encourage the development of the arts and to preserve Ohio’s cultural heritage. Funding from the Ohio Arts Council is an investment of state tax dollars that promotes economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohio residents. In 2013, The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance was thrilled to be one of five performing arts organizations in the country selected to receive a three-year “Music Alive” grant from New Music USA and the League of American Orchestras. The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is the proud recipient of a 2017-2018 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.