On April 16th and 17th, the University of Florida College of the Arts presented a grand production of Puccini’s masterpiece La Bohème. One hundred and twenty students performed in the opera which was a collaborative event created by the School of Music’s Opera Theatre and UF Symphony Orchestra in cooperation with the School of Theatre and Dance. The two performances received enthusiastic standing ovations by the large crowds which included State Representative Keith Perry and UF President Kent Fuchs. Dr. Fuchs met with the cast after the Saturday night event to convey his congratulations.
The performances featured talented UF graduate and undergraduate students in the lead roles of Mimi, Musetta, Marcello, Schaunard and Colline. They were joined onstage by UF faculty member Matt Morgan, tenor (Rodolfo), a veteran of numerous opera houses including the New York City Opera at Lincoln Center. The majestic and passionate performance of the UF Symphony Orchestra brought Puccini’s score to life. As one patron said, “the orchestra soared” under the hand of guest conductor, Matthew Wardell.
The beautiful sets which depict the tiny garret where the Bohemians share a roof, the grand Christmas Eve street scene in the Latin Quarter of Paris, and the snowy outskirts of the city at daybreak were courtesy of the Sarasota Opera Company. The SOC has been a supporter of the UF Opera Theatre for many years. The lovely costumes that adorned the performers were provided by Costume World and the onstage marching band and children’s chorus were costumed by the Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville.
The opera was under the direction of Tony Mata, stage director, and Tony Offerle, Artistic and Musical Director. This teamwork has brought many operas to the stages of the Phillips Center including La Traviata and Tosca. A musical stage production at this level takes a village to produce and many of our UF faculty and staff came together to bring La Bohème to the community. This extraordinary triennial educational opportunity is also a wonderful regional showcase of the superb student talent within our college.