UK performs opera that inspired ‘Rent’



by Luke Glaser

UK Opera Theatre will open its new season with one of the most popular operas of all time this Wednesday.

“La Boheme,” a story of friendship, death and the love that pervades and endures throughout is the second most performed opera in the U.S., due mostly to its enduring themes pertaining to younger people.

“College kids can relate to the characters, who are in their 20s,” said accounting senior Matt Turner, who plays Benoit the landlord in the opera. “This inspired the movie ‘Rent,’ and there are lots of similarities.”

“La Boheme” focuses around two couples, Rodolfo and Mimì, and Marcello and Musetta. Performers hope their snappy flirtation, playful arguments and heart-wrenching decisions will keep audiences laughing, crying and loving with the characters.

“It is a beautiful story of love, art and has fantastic music,” said Catherine Clarke Mardolillo, who plays Mimì, an innocent flower-maker plagued by sickness. “It is very accessible to an audience member who has never seen opera”.

John Nardolillo, maestro and orchestra director for the University of Kentucky, praised   UK Opera’s rendition of the production.

“It is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written,” Nardolillo said. “Stunning, unbelievable music. We are lucky to have such great voices.”

While originally set in the 1830s. UK’s “La Boheme” will take place during the flapper age of the 1920s. Featuring a diverse cast, from master’s students to undergrads to children, and performed in the elegant setting of Lexington’s Opera House, “La Boheme” is for the theatrical connoisseur and casual patron alike.

“La Boheme” has left  as big impression on the performers as they hope it will on audiences.

“These are roles we will have for a lifetime,” said star of the Metropolitan Opera and current UK professor Cynthia Lawrence. “It presents real people living in an extraordinary moment. ‘La Boheme’ will take you on a journey you’ve never taken.”

The opera opens Thursday at 7:30 p.m., with a showing on October 1 and two on October 3 (a 2:00 p.m. matinee and 7:30 p.m. closing). Ticket prices are discounted for UK students, and the performance lasts about 2 hours.