The Opera Company of Philadelphia looks both forward and backward in time to open its latest season, presenting Puccini’s 19th-century classic “La boheme” using 21st-century technology. “Opera is the original multimedia experience,” says Opera Company general director David Devan. “So in a strange way, we’re coming from our roots. We’re just using more motherboards to do it.”
The idea for the new production, by Italian director/designer Davide Livermore, was to reflect the bohemian influences on the opera’s setting by using large-scale HD projections of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings. “And it hit me,” Devan recalls. “Hang on a second, we’ve got Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ in Philadelphia, and the biggest news in the city is the Barnes reopening on the Parkway. What if we were to use iconic paintings that are in the collections of Philadelphia?”
The Opera Company teamed with curators from the Barnes and the Art Museum to select paintings that would help set the mood and tell the story. Nearly all of the 40 works that will be represented in the production were culled from the two museums’ substantial collections. “At the Opera Company of Philadelphia, we’re big believers in community,” Devan says. “This seemed to be a great opportunity to engender huge civic pride by bringing these great arts institutions onto the stage of the Academy of Music. It allows Philadelphia to be proud and recognize that it has world-class treasures on its own real estate.”
If you go
Opera Company of Philadelphia: “La boheme”
Academy of Music
Broad and Locust sts.