Ross shifts direction with LAMCO’s ‘Boheme’

Director Herbert Ross has reached a turning point in his career, making the leap from film and ballet production to the world of opera.

Ross’ first operatic project, Puccini’s “La Boheme,” will open the Los Angeles Music Center Opera’s fall season at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, with a gala performance set for 7 p.m. Sept. 9.

There will be subsequent performances Sept. 12, 15, 18, 21, 23 and 26.

Even though “Boheme” is an exceedingly familiar opera, Ross said he and designer Gerard Howland have attempted to look at it through fresh eyes.

They have updated the setting from Paris of the 1840s to the 1890s, a shift that, according to Ross, allows the production to take advantage of the artistic influence of figures like Toulouse-Lautrec and the young Picasso, as well as the photography of Eugene Atget.

Ross also explained that the set design, which incorporates an opened-up style of architecture, has allowed him to add a great deal of peripheral activity — bits of action that, he hopes, will provide added dimension to the characters.

However, the most revolutionary aspect of this “La Boheme” may be LAMCO’s intention to present the opera with only one intermission, instead of the traditional three.

If the staging mechanics can be worked out, Ross says, the effect should be a much more cohesive telling of the story.

“La Boheme’s” cast will feature Kallen Esperian (and, later in the run, Julia Migenes) as Mimi, Craig Sirianni as Rodolfo, Tatiana Odinokova as Musetta and Jeffrey Black as Marcello.

The first four performances will be conducted by Placido Domingo, the final three by Randall Behr.

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