La Bohème at the Arts Centre Melbourne
Next month, Opera Australia brings La Bohème back to the Melbourne stages. Ahead of their opening, Hamish spoke this week to Jane Ede, who will star as Musetta, about the show and returning to this great role. Have a read below:
La Bohème is a classic opera. Why do you think it has been so popular over the years? What does it have to say, and why is it still relevant today?
I think all of the really classic operas like La Boheme, in addition to showing off beautiful music and voices, possess a perfect fusion of music and drama that means they go straight to your heart, keep you on the edge of your seat and make sure you never tire of them- they’re always fresh. In the case of La Boheme, I think it’s the timeless characters. Being a poor student who’s desperately in love never goes out of fashion, we all know or have known a romantic Rodolfo/Mimì couple and a fiery Marcello/Musetta couple amongst our friends and colleagues.
Is your production of La Bohème a classic recreation? What’s new/different about this production?
This Gale Edwards production has become a classic production since its premiere in 2011 because it is such a successful re-telling of the story. Gale updated it by about a hundred years, taking it from the original 1830’s Paris to Berlin in the 1930’s. It gives the production a wonderful world to play in, with the decadence of the Weimar cabaret scene bumping up against the strictness of the Nazi military, but doesn’t radically alter the love stories that are at the heart of the Opera.
Composer Giacomo Puccini is famous for his big sweeping melodies and does not disappoint in this opera. What do you like most about his score?
The Act 3 scene between Mimì and Marcello and the very last scene get me every single time. I have heard and seen Boheme dozens of times and I still cry. Luckily, as Musetta in this production I am supposed to be crying, which is good, as I would find it very difficult not to!
This is your second time playing Musetta in two years. What has it been like to take up the character again? Have you changed anything about your performance?
Last time I performed Musetta we had a shortened rehearsal period (as most of the cast and crew had just finished performing it in Sydney) so I felt like I had a lot to absorb in a short time. While I enjoyed the role immensely I do remember spending a lot of time worrying about little, practical things like not tripping over in the revolving scene or not sticking my gloves to my jewellery. :)
This time I have a full rehearsal period and I’m really looking forward to be able to relax and enjoy the role more- exploring the character and the singing as much as I can.
Many of our readers will be more familiar with Jonathan Larson’s musical Rent than Puccini’s opera La Bohème on which it is loosely based. Would you ever consider playing Maureen, the musical’s equivalent of Musetta? Have you performed in many musicals in the past?
If I could belt like Idina Menzel I would definitely be keen to have a shot at Maureen!
I adore musicals, and performed in quite a few of them when I was first studying singing. I have a long standing joke with family and friends that I forget my words in opera rehearsals because my head is still too stuffed with the Sondheim lyrics that I learnt as a teenager. I still enjoy attending musicals, I saw Evita last week and loved it.
Why should people come and see this production of La Bohème?
For the amazing music, amazing voices and gorgeous production, but mostly for the emotional wallop that hearing this classic love story sung live over an orchestra in the great acoustics of the State Theatre can give you.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
Favourite production you have ever seen?
My second ever live opera - Peter Grimes
You’re getting on a plane tomorrow and you can go anywhere in the world, where do you go?
Back to London with my husband, we had a short work trip there some years ago and need to return and explore more.
Dream role to perform?
I am lucky enough that I get to perform one of dream roles in Melbourne next year- Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte
Plays, musicals or operas?
All of the above! Give me Cat on a hot tin roof, Chess and Dialogues of the Carmelites in the same week and I am one happy soprano.
A hobby you have beyond the theatre?
I’m a huge reader, but haven’t had much time lately. My stack of books to be read is enormous.
What’s next for you after this show?
I understudy two fantastic roles in the OA Summer season and then come back to Melbourne for Cosi- can’t wait!
Tickets for La Bohème are currently available here - book early to ensure that you don't miss out!
Jane Ede - Soprano