Opera Nananimo artistic director Carol Fetherston leads a rehearsal for the upcoming production of La Bohème featuring principal performers Michael MacKinnon, Jeremy Roszmann, Andrea Rodall, Jason Cook, Martin Renner-Wallace and Wendy Alexander (front from right) at the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music earlier this month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Opera Nananimo artistic director Carol Fetherston leads a rehearsal for the upcoming production of La Bohème featuring principal performers Michael MacKinnon, Jeremy Roszmann, Andrea Rodall, Jason Cook, Martin Renner-Wallace and Wendy Alexander (front from right) at the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music earlier this month. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Opera Nanaimo presents ‘La Bohème’ at Malaspina Theatre

The production is the company’s first full-length opera

Nanaimo’s opera company is staging its first full production next month as it tells the story of six struggling bohemians living in 19th century Paris.

On Nov. 9 and 10 Opera Nanaimo presents Giacomo Puccini’s 1896 opera La Bohème at Malaspina Theatre. The production features a cast of 48 including the chorus and 12-member children’s choir, with lighting design by Michael Stebbings, whose past credits include the Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular. Producer and artistic director Carol Fetherston said it’s an ambitious undertaking for Opera Nanaimo.

“Yes, it’s a big step forward, but I think Nanaimo’s ready for it,” she said. “What’s happening here is I have seen all kinds of people come forward, want to know more about the production, want to participate in it, the volunteers are coming out of the woodwork … There’s a great deal of excitement about this production.”

In casting the opera Fetherston sought to bring in highly trained up-and-coming performers who have yet to break into the “upper echelon,” as well as singers from the Island.

Nanaimo-raised baritone Jeremy Roszmann plays the role of the laid-back musician Schaunard, a character he’s always wanted to play. He said La Bohème is his favourite opera and while he’s performed it as part of the chorus in the past, this is his first time in a lead role.

“It’s got everything from love and happiness to tragedy. It’s a lot of fun,” he said of the opera. “I think it’s hard not to enjoy it when you listen to it. You really have to have a hatred for opera if you don’t like it.”

This is around the 30th performance of La Bohème for tenor Martin Renner-Wallace, who hails from Victoria. He said it’s the opera that got him hooked on opera and he’s always played the romantic and troubled poet Rodolfo.

“One of the most gratifying things is having this personality arc that starts in one place and ends in another,” he said. “In this case, it starts with him being a relatively happy-go-lucky bohemian poet and it ends with him being absolutely heartbroken and crushed, but it’s a very fun story arc to discover and you get to discover it anew every single night.”

Making her opera debut as stage director is Nanaimo actor and director Tamara McCarthy. She said she views her job as supporting the performers and helping shape and fine tune the production. She said she’s been watching past productions to help her devise a staging plan.

“Opera hasn’t really had a home here in Nanaimo, so it’s really exciting what Carol is doing to bring opera to Nanaimo audiences,” she said. “This is their biggest production to date so it’s a really exciting opportunity for Nanaimo audiences to to not have to go to the mainland or down to Victoria to see a show.”

Fetherston said as more people from bigger cities with an opera presence move to Nanaimo, the demand for the art form will grow. In the coming years she hopes Opera Nanaimo continues to nurture that interest in the mid-Island.

“The whole idea is to introduce the public here to these great works of art that have stood the test of time,” she said.

WHAT’S ON … Opera Nanaimo presents La Bohème at Malaspina Theatre, VIU Bldg. 310, on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. Tickets $45, available from the Port Theatre box office or online. While the opera is performed in Italian, an English translation will be projected above the stage.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo RCMP sought help in locating Jada Charlie-Carlson, 17. (Nanaimo RCMP photo)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP say 17-year-old girl who was missing has been found safe

Police sought help in locating teen who hadn’t seen her family members for a month

Brian McFadden, vice-president of the Vancouver Island Military Museum, shows elements of a new exhibit there that examines some of the horrors and hardships for women and children in prison camps during First and Second World Wars. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Women in prison camps persevered

Letter writer shares her mother’s recollections of prison camp in Java during Second World War

A light display on Northumberland Avenue was recognized as one of the best in the city last year. (Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce photo)
Nanaimo’s Christmas light-up event renamed Illuminight

Judging will take place the evening of Dec. 13

Potential locations of speed humps and curbs on Lost Lake Road. (City of Nanaimo image)
City of Nanaimo planning traffic-calming project on Lost Lake Road

Seventy-five per cent of respondents support measures to reduce speed on the road

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Claudio Mastronardi, Toronto branch manager at Carmichael Engineering, is photographed at the company’s offices in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. As indoor air quality becomes a major concern in places of business, HVAC companies are struggling to keep up with demand for high quality filtration systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Business is booming for HVAC companies as commercial buildings see pandemic upgrades

‘The demand right now is very high. People are putting their health and safety ahead of cost’

Bank of Montreal, located on Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver. (Google Maps)
Heiltsuk man files human rights complaint against Vancouver police, BMO after bank arrest

Pair remains distraught after employee falsely reports fraud in progress leading to their arrest

RCMP Cpl. Cory Lepine pictured at BC Livestock Producers Co. in Kamloops, Nov. 16. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Meet B.C.’s only cowboy cop; a voice for the livestock industry

Cpl. Cory Lepine serves as a bridge between the law and those who make a living off the land

BCHL pushes back season start due to provincial health orders

The delay is minimal, just six days, for now. But the league is open to starting up after Christmas

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ board is set to vote on a recommendation that would see Franklyn Street gym demolition. Pictured here, Nanaimo Fire Rescue staff on scene after a gym fire in October 2018. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school trustees to decide Franklyn Street gym’s fate

SD68 committee recommends demolishing gym, damaged by fire in October 2018

A map of Nanaimo displays the boundaries of the proposed new downtown business improvement area. (City of Nanaimo image)
Nanaimo city councillors recommending downtown improvement area be re-established

Finance and audit committee recommends council direct staff to start ‘petition-against’ process

Most Read