January 20, 2023 – 7:30 PM
January 22, 2023 – 2:00 PM
Italian with English supertitles
Giuseppe Giacosa & Luigi Illica
One of opera’s most romantic stories makes a long-anticipated return to the Saenger stage. La bohème follows Mimì and Rodolfo from their first meeting to their final devastating moments, capturing their impassioned relationship through the lens of Giacomo Puccini’s masterful, lush orchestrations. From Musetta’s famous waltz, “Quando m’en vo,” to the rousing second act outside the Café Momus—featuring our wonderful Pensacola Opera Chorus—this beloved work features some of opera’s most hummable melodies. Newly appointed Artistic Director Corey McKern makes his Pensacola Opera mainstage directorial debut with this production, featuring Bizhou Chang and Adam Diegel as the ill-fated Mimì and her adoring Rodolfo, alongside Flora Hawk and Robert Mellon as on-again-off-again couple Musetta and Marcello. The Pensacola Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Jerome Shannon in his first production as Principal Guest Conductor.
courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera
Paris, in the 1830s. In their Latin Quarter garret, the near-destitute artist Marcello and poet Rodolfo try to keep warm on Christmas Eve by feeding the stove with pages from Rodolfo’s latest drama. They are soon joined by their roommates—Colline, a philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician, who brings food, fuel, and funds he has collected from an eccentric nobleman. While they celebrate their unexpected fortune, the landlord, Benoit, comes to collect the rent. After getting the older man drunk, the friends urge him to tell of his flirtations, then throw him out in mock indignation at his infidelity to his wife. As the others depart to revel at the Café Momus, Rodolfo remains behind to finish an article, promising to join them later. There is another knock at the door—the visitor is Mimì, a pretty neighbor, whose candle has gone out in the stairwell. As she enters the room, she suddenly feels faint. Rodolfo gives her a sip of wine, then helps her to the door and relights her candle. Mimì realizes that she lost her key when she fainted, and as the two search for it, both candles go out. Rodolfo finds the key and slips it into his pocket. In the moonlight, he takes Mimì’s hand and tells her about his dreams. She recounts her life alone in a lofty garret, embroidering flowers and waiting for the spring. Rodolfo’s friends call from outside, telling him to join them. He responds that he is not alone and will be along shortly. Happy to have found each other, Mimì and Rodolfo leave, arm in arm, for the café.
Amid the shouts of street hawkers near the Café Momus, Rodolfo buys Mimì a bonnet and introduces her to his friends. They all sit down and order supper. The toy vendor Parpignol passes by, besieged by children. Marcello’s former sweetheart, Musetta, makes a noisy entrance on the arm of the elderly, but wealthy, Alcindoro. The ensuing tumult reaches its peak when, trying to gain Marcello’s attention, she loudly sings the praises of her own popularity. Sending Alcindoro away to buy her a new pair of shoes, Musetta finally falls into Marcello’s arms. Soldiers march by the café, and as the bohemians fall in behind, the returning Alcindoro is presented with the check.
At dawn at the Barrière d’Enfer, a toll-gate on the edge of Paris, a customs official admits farm women to the city. Guests are heard drinking and singing within a tavern. Mimì arrives, searching for the place where Marcello and Musetta now live. When the painter appears, she tells him of her distress over Rodolfo’s incessant jealousy. She says she believes it is best that they part. As Rodolfo emerges from the tavern, Mimì hides nearby. Rodolfo tells Marcello that he wants to separate from Mimì, blaming her flirtatiousness. Pressed for the real reason, he breaks down, saying that her illness can only grow worse in the poverty they share. Overcome with emotion, Mimì comes forward to say goodbye to her lover. Marcello runs back into the tavern upon hearing Musetta’s laughter. While Mimì and Rodolfo recall past happiness, Marcello returns with Musetta, quarreling about her flirting with a customer. They hurl insults at each other and part, but Mimì and Rodolfo decide to remain together until springtime.
Months later in the garret, Rodolfo and Marcello, now separated from their girlfriends, reflect on their loneliness. Colline and Schaunard bring a meager meal. To lighten their spirits, the four stage a dance, which turns into a mock duel. At the height of the hilarity, Musetta bursts in with news that Mimì is outside, too weak to come upstairs. As Rodolfo runs to her aid, Musetta relates how Mimì begged to be taken to Rodolfo to die. She is made as comfortable as possible, while Musetta asks Marcello to sell her earrings for medicine and Colline goes off to pawn his overcoat. Left alone, Mimì and Rodolfo recall their meeting and their first happy days, but she is seized with violent coughing. When the others return, Musetta gives Mimì a muff to warm her hands, and Mimì slowly drifts into unconsciousness. Musetta prays for Mimì, but it is too late. The friends realize that she is dead, and Rodolfo collapses in despair.
Cast and Creatives
Bizhou Changas Mimì
Soprano Bizhou Chang is thrilled to return to Pensacola Opera to perform Mimì in La bohème this January. This season, Ms. Chang will return to Guerilla Opera for the concert presentation and theatrical workshop of Emily Koh’s Her: Alive|un|dead, perform as a featured performer in Pensacola Opera’s 40th Year Anniversary Gala Concert Forty Forward with Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, and make her company debuts as Liù in Turandot with Opera Southwest and Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro with Knoxville Opera.
During 2021-2022 season, Ms. Chang made her role debut as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with Pensacola Opera, performed the role of Maria in the world premiere of Island of Hope, Island of Tears by Gabriele Vanoni with Guerilla Opera, and Violetta in an immersive production of La Traviata with Opera Columbus and Out of the Box Opera.
During the Covid-19 impacted 2020-2021 season, Ms. Chang made her art film debut as Mimì in an innovative film version of La bohème directed by Laine Rettmer with More than Musical (Hong Kong), a co-production of Opera Omaha, Tri Cities Opera, and Opera Columbus, performed Mimì in a new production of La bohème with Opera Columbus, and returned to Pensacola Opera to sing Micaëla in Carmen.
Adam Diegelas Rodolfo
Adam Diegel made his Metropolitan Opera début as Froh in Robert Lepage’s landmark production of Das Rheingold conducted by Maestro James Levine, and later reprised the performance under Fabio Luisi. Further appearances at The Met include Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly under Plácido Domingo and Ismaele in Nabucco under Paolo Carignani. This season Mr. Diegel returns to The Metropolitan Opera, and performs with Boston Lyric Opera, Knoxville Opera, Pensacola Opera, and Opera Louisiane.
Other notable recent U.S. engagements include: Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly at Atlanta Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera San Antonio, and Kentucky Opera; Ismaele in Nabucco at Opera Philadelphia; Cavaradossi in Tosca at Vancouver Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Seattle Opera, and Arizona Opera; Don José in Carmen at Glimmerglass Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Florida Grand Opera, Arizona Opera, and Madison Opera; and Rodolfo in La bohème at Opera Omaha and Minnesota Opera.
Other international appearances include: Don José in Carmen at English National Opera, San Francisco Opera and at Opera Australia’s Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour; Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Opera Hong Kong, Lithuanian National Opera, The Savonlinna Opera Festival, and on tour in China at the Guangzhous Opera House among many others.
Robert Mellonas Marcello
Baritone Robert Mellon is known for having a “dark baritone, full and fresh and quick with dramatic fire.” 2022 engagements include Papageno with Pensacola Opera; Iago in Othello with InSeries Opera; Marullo in Rigoletto at Opera Philadelphia; and a return to Union Avenue Opera in the title role in Falstaff. His 2021 debut as Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia won
critical reviews. He returned to Opera de Oviedo for Marcello in La bohème and Gubetta in Lucrezia Borgia, as well as Malatesta in Don Pasquale with Opera Las Vegas. Other recent roles include Syracuse Opera as Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte; the title role in Gianni Schicchi and Eine Florentinische Tragödie with Livermore Valley Opera; Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro and Papageno in The Magic Flute with Opera Maine; and Schaunard in La bohème with San Diego Opera. In 2019 Robert debuted Dear Erich with NYCO, Leporello in Don Giovanni with Syracuse Opera, Tonio in Pagliacci and Simone in Eine Florentinische Tragödie at Opera de Oviedo (Spain). Upcoming: Taddeo in L’Italiana in Algeri with Tulsa Opera; Tonio in Pagliacci with Opera Tampa; Germont in La Traviata with Opera Las Vegas.
Flora Hawkas Musetta
Soprano Flora Hawk’s recent engagements include debuts as Peter in the world premiere of Houston Grand Opera’s The Snowy Day, Amelia in the world premiere of Quamino’s Map with Chicago Opera Theater, and Poppea in Agrippina with Florida Grand Opera, a return to Kentucky Opera as Euridice in Orfeo, and excerpts of The Snowy Day in concert with New Haven Symphony Orchestra. In the 2020-21 season, she completed her residency with Kentucky Opera’s Barbara and Halsey Sandford Studio Artist Program where she was originally scheduled to perform Musetta in La bohème, Sandman in Hansel and Gretel, and Euridice in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, but due to Covid-19 she instead appeared in multiple innovative productions with the company. Additionally, she performed Josephine in H.M.S Pinafore with Pensacola Opera, Sally in the premiere of Stone Soup with Fort Worth Opera, and the leading role of Sara in the premiere of We Wear the Sea Like a Coat with Opera Ithaca. Flora was a District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition, received top prize in the Mary Jacobs Smith Singer of the Year Competition, the 2013 Amore! Opera Lovers of East Texas Award for Outstanding Opera Performance, and was a finalist in the National Competition for Classical Singers. Learn more at florahawksoprano.com.
Alex DeSocioas Schaunard
Described by The New York Times as having a “buttery, booming baritone,” Alex DeSocio (Wichita, KS), received his BM in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University and his MM at the University of Maryland. He is a 2-time alumnus of the San Francisco Opera Merola Program. He is the only opera singer certified as an Actor Combatant in The Society of American Fight Directors.
Alex has worked in regional opera companies including Sarasota Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Opera Birmingham, Pensacola Opera, Anchorage Opera, Wichita Grand Opera, Opera Memphis, Livermore Valley Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, and the Pacific Opera Project. Professional role experience includes Silvio in Pagliacci, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Don Giovanni in Don Giovanni, Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette, Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Marcello in La Bohème, Lescaut in Manon, Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Count in Le nozze di Figaro, and Dandini in La Cenerentola.
Alex’s awards include being a two-time Metropolitan Opera Council Audition Semi-Finalist, Winner/Laureate with the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, Sullivan Foundation Winner, 1st Place Palm Springs Opera Guild Competition, 1st Place Winner Opera Birmingham Vocal Competition, 2nd Place Premiere Vocal Competition, and Merola Opera Program Shoshana Grant Award.
Allen Michael Jones*as Colline
Bass Allen Michael Jones begins the 2022-2023 season as Colline in La bohème for his company debut with Nashville Opera. Additionally in the season, Jones will be heard as Colline with Pensacola Opera, as the Imperial Commissioner in Madama Butterfly with his hometown company – Atlanta Opera, and returns to Minnesota Opera as Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni. In the summer prior to the season, Jones was a member of the famed Apprentice Artist program at The Santa Fe Opera. During his two summers in Santa Fe, he was heard as the Officer in Il barbiere di Siviglia and as Zaretsky in Eugene Onegin, a role he sang with Dallas Symphony under the baton of Fabio Luisi. A former resident artist with Minnesota Opera, Jones was heard in performances as Zuniga in Carmen, Superintendent Budd in Albert Herring, and appeared in concerts and performances specifically produced during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also enjoys a strong relationship with Toledo Opera where he was scheduled to sing Father in Blue, Ramfis in Aida, and was able to perform Ferrando in Il trovatore. Jones was also a Resident Artist with Michigan Opera Theatre where he performed as Masetto in Don Giovanni, Zaretsky, Balthanzar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Maximillian in Candide, and sang multiple roles in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Grapes of Wrath.
Also a gifted composer, Jones is a proud graduate of Morehouse College where he received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Composition before going on to earn his Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance form Georgia State University.
Randy Ho*as Parpignol
Complemented on his “affectionate vibrato” (OperaWire), tenor, Randy Ho is looking forward to joining the team at Pensacola Opera as an Artist in Residence. This season, Mr. Ho will be singing as Parpignol and covering Rodolfo (La bohème), and singing Enoch Snow (Carousel).
Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Mr. Ho is a recent graduate of the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Ho holds a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration concentrating in Marketing from the University of Denver.
Most recently, Mr. Ho will be showcased in Pittsburgh Festival Opera’s scenes program singing excerpts from Faust, La Traviata, and Carmen. Previously, Mr. Ho has been featured as a studio artist at Carnegie Hall’s Song Studio led by world-renowned Soprano Renee Fleming, Peabody Opera Theater productions of La scala di seta (Dorvil), Hin und Zurück(Robert), Postcard from Morocco (Man with old Luggage), Lamont Opera Theater’s production of Il trittico (Rinuiccio), and as a soloist with The National Repertory Orchestra, Denver Opera Collective, and The Denver Spirituals Project.
Dean Anthonyas Benoit/Alcindoro
Dean Anthony draws inspiration and expertise from a comprehensive career spanning over 35 years and innumerable turns as performer, director, educator, producer and administrator. Most recently, Mr. Anthony was named as Producing Director of Knoxville Opera along with his position as Director of Opera, at the Janiec Opera Company of the Brevard Music Center, producing over 40 productions.
Frequently engaged as a stage director, Mr. Anthony’s artistic process is hallmarked by an energetic, gritty, and physical style. His portfolio stretches across the repertoire from Le nozze di Figaro to Dead Man Walking and includes regular engagements at regional houses across the United States. In 2020, he received the Charles Nelson Reilly American Prize Stage Director Award for his work on Tom Cipullo’s world premiere opera, Mayo.
A major producer and promoter of new opera works, Mr. Anthony has helped facilitate, create and develop numerous projects including Glory Denied, Mayo, Fleecing the Flock, Supper’s Ready, Falling Angel, Sister Carrie, and Change the World, It Needs It! a new cabaret with the Kurt Weill Foundation. In collaboration with composer Michael Ching, Mr. Anthony conceived and created the opera Speed Dating Tonight!, which garnered nationwide attention and has been booked for over 100 different productions to date.
As a character tenor, Mr. Anthony performed over 100 roles on the operatic stage and garnered acclaim for his keen vocal, dramatic, physical, and acrobatic abilities, earning him the nickname “The Tumbling Tenor.”
Scott Lee*as a Customs Officer
A native of Statesville, North Carolina, baritone Scott Lee has been praised for his “…substance and velvety bass voice” by the Winston-Salem Journal. In recent years, he has performed with Piedmont Opera, The Princeton Festival, Opera Theater of the Rockies and Magnolia Baroque. In 2020, Lee received the Ron Payne Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in Charlotte, NC. His most recent engagement was the role of Antonio in Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix, where “the opportunity to experience a staging of Linda di Chamounix was a rare gift to UNCSA’s audiences, but singing such as Lee’s is still rarer not only in student production but upon all the worlds stages.” (Voix des Arts) Lee received his Bachelor of Music degree and Master of Music degree from UNCSA. In addition to performing, Lee is a seasoned teaching artist, having served as a member of UNCSA’s ArtistCorps. He is a student of Dr. Marylin Taylor.
Jerome Shannonas Conductor
Praised for his “skill and verve” (New York Times), Shannon celebrates nearly 30 years as a professional operatic pianist, vocal coach, conductor and administrator. During this time, Maestro Shannon has held leadership positions with Sarah Caldwell’s Opera Company of Boston (Artistic Administrator, Assistant Conductor, Conductor), Virginia Opera (Artistic Administrator, Associate Artistic Director, Conductor), Pensacola Opera (Music Director and Principal Conductor, Artistic Director), Shreveport Opera (Music Director and Principal Conductor), Mobile Opera (General and Artistic Director, Principal Conductor) and the Janiec Opera Company of the Brevard Music Center (Resident Conductor and Vocal Coach).
Corey McKernas Stage Director
Award-winning baritone Corey McKern continuously earns critical acclaim and accolades in every appearance he makes. Of his performance as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, critics hailed: “Corey McKern… has all the goods to rise to star stature – timing, stamina, vocal heft and an easy-going stage presence – especially telling in Figaro’s signature aria, ‘Largo al factotum della citta.’” Recent engagements include the role of Older Thompson in Glory Denied with Opera Birmingham and performances as a soloist in Carmina Burana with Missoula Symphony, and Handel’s Messiah with the Alabama Symphony. Other engagements include Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Tallahassee Symphony and a return to the Florentine Opera for a concert of “Opera’s Greatest Hits.” Upcoming, Corey will return to Pensacola Opera as the title role in their production of Don Giovanni.
Of his performance in La bohème, the Santa Fe New Mexican said, “Corey McKern’s resolute, robust-voiced and rambunctious Marcello, a perfect picture of a wannabe Parisian painter, was one of the best I’ve ever heard.” Mr. McKern garners attention at leading opera houses for his charming and dynamic portrayals of his signature roles: Marcello in La bohème in his Asian début at Opera Hong Kong, Santa Fe Opera, Florentine Opera of Milwaukee, Nashville Opera, and Opera Grand Rapids; Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Nashville Opera and Opera Birmingham; the Count in Le nozze di Figaro with Nashville Opera, Opera Cleveland, Opera Columbus, Michigan Opera Theatre, Tulsa Opera, Opera Birmingham, and Syracuse Opera; Gabriel von Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with Nashville Opera and Florentine Opera; Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Omaha, Arizona Opera, Opera Birmingham, and Tulsa Opera; as Silvio in Pagliacci with Austin Lyric Opera, Arizona Opera, Opera Birmingham, and Central City Opera.
CONDUCTOR | Jerome Shannon
STAGE DIRECTOR | Corey McKern
CHORUS DIRECTOR | Cody Martin
LIGHTING DESIGNER | TBD
COSTUME DESIGNER | Glenn Avery Breed
HAIR & MAKEUP DESIGNER | Brittany Rappise
PRODUCTION STAGE MANAGER | Alayna Powell
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER | Shannon Bingham
REHEARSAL PIANIST | Nathan Cicero*
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR | TBD
* Pensacola Opera debut artist
Sights & Sounds
V. Paul's Prix Fixe Dinner
Friday, January 20 at 5:00 PM
Meet the Artists Reception
Friday, January 20 at 10:30 PM
Director’s Champagne Brunch
Sunday, January 22 at 11:45 AM
When choosing your seats, keep in mind that this map is only an approximation and not exactly to scale. If you have specific seating needs or require accessible seating, you may contact the Box Office for more information.
Numbers indicate price level
No stairs in the Orchestra Level
ADA accessible seating in rows V, BB, and DD
House left is even numbered
House right is odd numbered
Center is consecutively numbered
Numbers indicate price level
ADA accessible seating in the Loges
House left is even numbered
House right is odd numbered
Center is consecutively numbered