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Thursday, October 18, 2012

He Said, She Said in The Vancouver Sun

Check out today's Vancouver Sun for some great coverage of La Bohème from David Gordon Duke!
Text below and original story here.

Q: Why does Mimi fall for Rodolfo?

Marianne Fiset (Mimi): I think Mimi likes Rodolfo first of all because he is handsome, but she also falls in love with the poet, the romantic guy. She also admires his guts. Mimi has guts, too, but she is more reserved, Rudolfo has lots of friends; he goes out. She loves his spontaneous side, how he goes with the flow without overthinking things, which is where all the poetry comes from, and his idealistic side. It’s that nice mixture of Latin temper, reacting in the moment, that he has, plus this softness, his capacity for seeing the beauty of life and the beauty of art.

Jason Slayden (Rodolfo): Pretty quickly Rodolfo realizes that they are made of the same stuff. In their arias at the beginning, they reveal all about their dreams and their passions, and he realizes right away that they are kindred spirits — very passionate about love and spring and daydreaming. They are both hopeless romantics.

Q: And why does Rodolfo fall for Mimi?

M.F.: I think it’s pretty much the same for Rudolfo, only the opposite. Of course Mimi is good-looking, she has to be; but there is also this hidden passion. She is sweet and shy on the outside, but she has a very rich and passionate inner life, which shows in her very first aria. Up there on the roof, she gets super-passionate — the sunrise is only for her! She is a seamstress with the capacity to get excited over detail and beauty. Unfortunately she cannot make a living from it, so she has to be taken under the protection of a rich man just to survive.

J.S.: Rodolfo is poor and useless and all those things, but they are just so right for each other, and the chemistry between them is just overwhelming. Guy meets girl; it is as simple as that. Their duet in the first act is such sensual music, and he’s all like: “We don’t need to go out, we can just stay here ...”
Q: If things had turned out differently, what would their future together be?

M.F.: Where would they be in five years? I think Rodolfo would have changed. He would be hard to live with, he has this rough side, very jealous, even violent — in Act 2 they have only been together for 30 minutes, and already he won’t let her look at another man passing by. So I think she would leave him after about three years; I don’t think she would stay in this relationship.

J.S.: I’m sure they would find a way to resolve their differences. It may be that Rudolfo would be so poor that they couldn’t afford her medicine, she’d probably have to go back into the business. Me, I’m a hopeless romantic too, and happily married, so I really hope they would find a way to work it out.

Q: What is your favourite moment in the opera?

M.F.: This music is such fun to sing! Of course in the first act, one of my treats is Rudolfo’s aria — it’s always nice to be seated there listening to him. Act 2 is super-relaxed for me, but Act 3 is the most rewarding musically and dramatically. But then again, in Act 4, I’m in bed all the time!

J.S.: For me, it’s when they are reunited in the fourth act, when Mimi comes back and we see each other for the first time in who knows how long, and we have all these amazing soaring melodies. I find it hard not to lose it as an actor... . I’m always trying to find experiences in my real life to motivate my actions on stage, and at some point I always start crying. Me, not Rodolfo.

Q: Finally, why is La Bohème so enduringly popular?

M.F.: First of all, I think if you exclude the music and just talk about characters and drama, it’s a story everyone can relate to. Everyone has fallen in love or at least had a crush; the cast here is very young, so it’s believable. ... It’s not about kings and queens or gods or legends; this is a play we can all relate to. And then when you add this extraordinary music ...! It’s out of this world at moments, these tiny masterpieces of music. We won’t ever stop doing La Bohème!

J.S.: La Bohème is so visceral and so real. Anybody could be experiencing this, you can identify with any one of the characters. And of course the music is just divine. We’ve got a very young cast, which is great for this opera; we’re getting along so well and having a lot of fun in rehearsals, and it makes for some dramatic choices we might not have experienced otherwise. I’m totally stoked about it.

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