Opera San Antonio (OSA) is wrapping up its 2017-18 season with a gem – Giacomo Puccini’s beloved opera “La Boheme” which tells the story of a group of young bohemian artists living in poverty in Paris in the 1830s while devoting themselves to their art. At the center of the tale is the love relationship between the poet Rodolfo and the seamstress/embroiderer Mimi, which ends tragically.
While there’s no shortage of tragedy in the operatic world, it is seldom as moving as the fate of Mimi and Rodolfo. Directed by E. Loren Meeker, the OSA production features a strong cast of singers, with soprano Amanda Kingston shining the brightest as Mimi. Derrek Stark as Rodolfo, and Rodolfo’s friends Marcello (Daniel Scofield), Colline (Justin Hopkins) and Schaunard (Andrew Mclaughlin), all have their special moments in the spotlight and all acquit themselves honorably as actors, too But Hopkin’s deep-voiced solo in the last act while Mimi is dying stands out, adding a restrained but genuinely sincere emotional depth to the scene.
As the sole female friend, Jessica Jones hits all the right notes throughout, from her over-the-top, outrageous behavior in the Café Momus act, to the quiet concern she demonstrate for Mimi in Act IV.
Though each act has its strengths and place in the story, the third one, featuring two duets – Marcello and Musetta, and Rodolfo and Mimi, is especially well realized, dramatically, vocally and visually.
The San Antonio Symphony playing in the pit occasionally overpowered some of the male vocalists at Thursday’s opening performance but the audience applauded warmly all their solos.
You have one other chance to see “La Boheme” Saturday, May 19, at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets go to www.tobincenter.org or call 210-223-8624.
Elsewhere in the City
There’s a lot going on this weekend. Mid-May means it’s time for the Tejano Conjunto Festival that the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center has been organizing for 37 years.
“This year’s festival showcases musicians of all ages and from different parts of the world,” said the center’s executive director Cristina Balli in a press release. And the fans also come from all over Texas, the U.S., Mexico and other countries.
For the uninitiated, conjunto is a unique musical genre born in South Texas from German and Spanish/Mexican musical influences, that has become popular well beyond the border region.
Most of the performances take place in Rosedale Park., 303 Dartmouth Rd. Starting at 1 p.m., the Saturday lineup includes Conjunto Romo, Bernardo y Sus Compadres, Santiago Garza y La Naturaleza, Los Cucuys de Rodney Rodriguez, Boni Mauricio y Los Maximos, and others. On Sunday, there is an International Showcase featuring artists from Japan and Holland, in addition to stars such as Eva Ybarra, the queen of the accordion; the Los Texmaniacs band and the Hometown Boys. And you can dance all day long should you be so inclined. Food and kids’ activities are part of the fun.
And for those who love musical theater, Las Casas Foundation will present the Joci Awards Scholarship Competition May 20, a showcase for the best of the best young theater artists chosen from 36 schools from the South Texas region. The young performers you will see on stage at the Empire Theater will be undergoing the last round of the judging process that determines the amount of the scholarships they will be awarded to pursue careers in the performing arts. (6 p.m. Sunday, Empire Theater, 226 N. St. Mary’s St.; for tickets go to ticketmaster.com or visit the Majestic/Empire box office on Houston St.
And if Latin jazz is your thing, celebrated musician and band leader Henry Brun and The Afro-Caribbean Dream Project will stop at the Carver Community Cultural Center Saturday, May 19 ay 8 p.m. Call 210-207-2234 or go to www.thecarver.org
Photos 0from top): “La Boheme” poster; Eva Ybarra with other musicians. Flaco Jimenez and Sandy Rodriguez are on the right.