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Fort Worth Opera Brings Paris to Texas with La Bohème at Bass Hall

Indomitable local opera company celebrates 78th anniversary and returns to Fort Worth’s Bass Hall with grand opera’s favorite star-crossed lovers.


For the penultimate production of Fort Worth Opera’s 2023/2024 season, General & Artistic Director Angela Turner Wilson has chosen one of the most enchanting operas in the traditional repertory: Giacomo Puccini’s 1896 masterpiece, La Bohème.



La Bohème is a poignant and insightful portrayal of the complexities of friendship, love, and loss, set against the backdrop of bohemian Paris. A favorite of opera lovers and novices alike, La Bohème tells a classic love story that has resonated across generations and inspired modern works from the stage musical Rent (1996) to the movies Moonstruck (1987) and Moulin Rouge (2001).


“With a nuanced plot, modern applicability, gorgeous period costumes and achingly lovely music, La Bohème truly has it all,” said Wilson. “People always think opera is one thing. Then they’re surprised when they get a chance to see it in person. It’s so much more like soap opera — people love and die, and it’s all terribly exciting.”


For La Bohème, composer Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) enriched the excitement by combining lush 19th century romance with dawn-of-the-20th century realism. His young lovers — Mimì and Rodolfo — might be star-crossed, but they are never starry-eyed. They live and love, but also lie to each other. They know that youthful exuberance comes with an expiration date, but they’re still hopeful that the moments of joy they share with their friends and beauty they share with each other add up to lives they’d live all over again if they could. 

The Fort Worth Opera production of La Bohème will be semi-staged, with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya — soon to make his Metropolitan Opera debut conducting Ainadamar — sharing the performance space with the singers. As Bass Performance Hall acoustics are designed to have the instruments on stage, audiences will be able to hear and appreciate the live interplay between singers and orchestra with extra clarity.


“With our La Bohème, you’ll get the full theatrical experience with the singers, the plot, glorious period costumes and fully physical staging as the performers occupy the entire space on platforms set up inside the orchestra and around the musicians,” said Wilson. “There won’t be any sets or painted backdrops, but you’ll gain a new level of theatricality by witnessing the interaction of every performer, including the musicians and conductor, live on stage.”

If you’re new to opera, and you’re wondering what to wear, Courtney Kennebeck, Director of Development and Special Events gave us this advice: “There is no dress code at the opera. You can dress to see and be seen like the ladies of HBO’s The Gilded Age (which recounts the scrappy founding of the now-iconic Metropolitan Opera in New York). Or dress to soak in the music in comfort in your favorite jeans and fleeces — though if you want to pair those jeans with the crystal-studded boots you wore to see Taylor Swift, that would be perfect, too. Opera is a little like Vegas: there is no over the top.”


Fort Worth Opera’s La Bohème will be performed on Friday, April 5 and Sunday, April 7 at Bass Performance Hall in downtown Fort Worth. The production features renowned Cuban-American soprano Elizabeth Caballero as Mimì and star-on-the-rise Alok Kumar as Rodolfo, both appearing in their Fort Worth opera debuts.


Tickets for the remainder of the 2023/2024 Fort Worth Opera season, including the eagerly awaited La Bohème, are available now on the Fort Worth Opera website at www.fwopera.org. Patrons are encouraged to purchase reserved seats early to secure an unforgettable experience, such as their glamorous private boxes.


“The Fort Worth Opera was founded 78 years ago by three visionary women who understood the importance of adding beauty to their community through opera,” Wilson concluded. “We are honored and proud to continue that legacy. La Bohème is about love, friendship, and community — and for us, this production is a love letter to our own community. We hope that everyone will buy tickets and come enjoy the show. La Bohème is going to be beautiful.”


The Fort Worth Opera production of La Bohème will be performed on Friday, April 5 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, April 7 at 2:00 pm at Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St, Fort Worth. The production is in Italian with English supertitles. There is one intermission. Chuck Hudson directs with Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducting the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. The vocal cast includes Elizabeth Caballero (soprano) as Mimì, Alok Kumar (tenor) as Rodolfo, Daniel Scofield (baritone) as Marcello, Meigui Zhang (soprano) as Musetta, Michael Colman (bass) as Schaunard and Kofi Hayford (bass) as Colline.


ABOUT FORT WORTH OPERA

Founded in 1946 by three visionary women — Eloise MacDonald Snyder, Betty Berry Spain, and Jeanne Axtell Walker — Fort Worth Opera is the oldest opera company in Texas, and one of the oldest opera companies in the United States. The organization has received local and national attention from critics and audiences alike for its artistic excellence, pioneering spirit, and long history of community-based cultural engagement. In addition to producing traditional repertoire with rising stars and inspirational young talents, the company is known throughout the operatic world as a champion of new American works.



With a dedication to the community both on and beyond the operatic stage, Fort Worth Opera boasts a highly successful opera education program, consisting of The Lesley Resident Artist program and the Children’s Opera Theatre, which brings opera to nearly 40,000 school children each year across the state of Texas.


Fort Worth Opera is committed to producing opera of the highest possible artistic quality and integrity; to identifying and training talented young singers; to serving as a crucible for creating new American operas; to joining forces with other arts organizations in significant collaborations; and to enriching the community by stimulating cultural curiosity and creativity in people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds.


Visit fwopera.org for more information.


ABOUT LA BOHÈME

La Bohème is a timeless story of young love, set in the heart of 19th century Paris. The opera follows the lives of a group of bohemian artists, including the poet Rodolfo and his seamstress lover Mimì, as they navigate poverty, friendship, and romance.


A grand opera in four acts, La Bohème was composed by Giacomo Puccini between 1893–1895. The opera received its world premiere in Turin, Italy on February 1, 1896 — conducted by Arturo Toscanini, who was already a superstar in the opera world at 28. Since then, La Bohème has become part of the standard Italian opera repertory and is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world.


ABOUT ELIZABETH CABALLERO, SOPRANO (MIMÌ)

Elizabeth Caballero has built a reputation as “an intelligently responsive actress” (Opera News) with a “plush-toned, expressive soprano” (The New York Times). The Wall Street Journal declared that “Ms. Caballero is a find: her opulent soprano rings freely and lyrically throughout her range.” The Seattle Times wrote of her Seattle Opera performance as Mimì in La Bohème — one of her signature roles — “Cuban soprano Elizabeth Caballero, pouring forth a stream of glorious tone, showed us more of the character’s inner strength…”

In 2020, Caballero was engaged to perform the role of Musetta in La Bohème for the Metropolitan Opera after grabbing the audience’s attention in the role at New York City Opera, where The New York Times hailed her as “the evening’s most show-stopping performance offering a thrilling balance of pearly tone, exacting technique and brazen physicality.”



Recent operatic engagements include Violetta in La Traviata with la Compañía Lírica Nacional in Costa Rica, Opera Naples and Opera Grand Rapids, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly with Pensacola Opera, and the title role of Daniel Catán’s Spanish opera Florencia en el Amazonas with Nashville Opera, New York City Opera and Madison Opera.

Ms. Caballero’s concert repertoire consists of John Rutter’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall, a performance of Carmina Burana with Florida Orchestra, Asheville Symphony, and the National Chorale, and as the soprano soloist in Verdi’s Requiem with Opera Grand Rapids.

Since her European debut as Magda in Puccini’s operetta La Rondine in Trieste, Italy, Caballero has fostered strong relationships with companies around the globe. On the competition circuit, Caballero was a National Grand Finalist in The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, a Gerda Lissner Foundation Award Winner, winner of the New York City Opera Diva Award, finalist in the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation, and declared one of Miami’s Most Influential People by the Miami New Times.

In 2013, Caballero was the recipient of the 2013 Frost School of Music Distinguished Alumni Award from her alma mater, the University of Miami.


Visit elizabethcaballero.com for more information, and youtube.com/@ecabsop for performance videos.


ABOUT ALOK KUMAR, TENOR (RODOLFO)

Tenor Alok Kumar debuted with the Metropolitan Opera during the 2018/19 season in The Girl of the Golden West and covered the role of Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi. He returned to the Met for the 2019/20 season as the Italian Tenor in Der Rosenkavalier and as the Steersman in The Flying Dutchman. While in New York, Kumar collaborated with composer Ricky Ian Gordon and director Bartlett Sher in developing Gordon’s new opera Intimate Apparel, a co-commission by the Metropolitan Opera and Lincoln Center Theater.

Most recently, Kumar made company debuts at Covent Garden with the Royal Opera House and the London Philharmonic Orchestra and created the role of Chyavana in the world premiere of Ravi Shankar’s Sukanya. An avid proponent of new musical works, Kumar collaborated with composer Robert Paterson on the world premiere of Spring Songs at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall. He premiered the tenor solo in the Thomas Cabaniss cantata My Song is a Fire and collaborated with director Scott Schwarz and librettist Marc Aceto in Jeffrey Stock’s musical adaptation of E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View

Along with New York and Los Angeles credits, Kumar has appeared with the Santa Fe Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Asheville Lyric Opera, Opera Delaware, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre and Portland Opera Repertory Theater, among others, and has most frequently portrayed leading roles in the operas of Bizet, Puccini and Verdi.


As a solo concert artist, Kumar has appeared with symphonies and orchestras in Spain, California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, and Massachusetts. His festival appearances include Italy’s Spoleto Festival, Canada’s Le Domaine Forget International Music Festival, Florida’s Sanibel Music Festival and Colorado’s Crested Butte Music Festival.


The Guardian reviewed Kumar’s 2023 performance as Don Jose in Carmen with Scottish Opera as, “a knockout… technically assured, his singing resonates with the raw pathos of a man on the edge – and his acting… equally compelling.” The Spectator concurred, “Kumar’s tenor is certainly ardent. There’s something in the way he socks those top notes towards the gods…”


Alok Kumar is an alumnus of The Peabody Conservatory of Music, Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, Boston University’s Opera Institute and Suffolk Law School. He resides in Los Angeles, CA with his wife and daughter, and maintains a private law practice.


Visit AlokKumarTenor.com for more information, and youtube.com/@alokkumartenor for performance videos.

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