In 1989 the Boheme Opera unfolded its first season on the professional opera circuit with productions of Verdi’s “La Traviata” and Puccini’s “Tosca.” The company quickly developed a reputation for outstanding casts and directors, becoming aligned with legendary artist teachers such as Jerome Hines and Franco Corelli. Boheme’s co-founders Joseph and Sandra Pucciatti, along with a remarkable following of devotees and supporters, could not have known that 24 years later, they would be approaching almost a quarter-century of opera theater, outreach, and accomplishment in Central Jersey.
This season, in efforts to attract new audiences, Boheme has chosen to circle back to a work it first staged in 1994, one that has all of the characteristics of a Gothic tale full of devilish spells and visions unfulfilled. Charles Gounod’s “Faust” also serves as a great vehicle for virtual set design, being created exclusively for this Boheme Opera production by brilliant virtual designer J. Matthew Root. Faust will be conducted and stage-directed by BONJ Artistic Director Joseph Pucciatti.
Faust is the story of an aging scholar who upon contemplating suicide, summons the devil, and signs a contract to be transformed into a young man with far-reaching consequences. Loosely based upon the Goethe tragedy of the same name, Gounod’s “Faust” is a work of beauty, temptation, passion, and revelation. For more than 150 years, audiences have been flocking to the opera to hear its memorable tunes and to see its theatrical possibilities.
For this production, Boheme has assembled a veteran principal cast who will create vocal fireworks. Singing the title role for his first time is international tenor Daniel Snyder, who made his Boheme debut in 2011 as Cavaradossi in “Tosca.” Making his debut with Boheme Opera in the role of Mephistopheles is veteran bass-baritone Frank Basile. Opera News declared him to be “a cross between Giorgio Tozzi and Ezio Pinza.” Returning after last season’s Boheme debut as an impressive Pamina in “The Magic Flute,” Seattle soprano Kristin K. Vogel sings her first Marguerite in this production. A popular principal artist with Boheme Opera for more than a decade, Met baritone Daniel Sutin returns for his first Valentin after his most recent role with the company as Baron Scarpia in its 2011 “Tosca.”
If you have never witnessed a live opera, this is the one that will hook you. Boheme gives a cinematic flavor to these performances, which will be sung in French with projected English supertitles. Pre-curtain talks are one hour prior to learn some of the backstory of Gounod and hear themes from the opera. Special needs shuttle and improved signage on the beautiful TCNJ campus further enhances the event.
Faust, Kendall Main Stage Theater, College of New Jersey. Saturday and Sunday, April 20 and 21. For tickets visit www.tcnj.edu/boxoffice or call 609-771-2775, Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Ask about student and group rates. Tickets may also be purchased in person at TCNJ Brower Student Center. Tickets will be available at the door one hour before each performance.
Major support for Faust is made possible by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Boheme Opera Guild and Roma Bank.
Next season, Boheme celebrates its 25th Anniversary Season with a 200th Verdi birthday celebration and a return to its very first professional work, Verdi’s “La Traviata.”