"Musetta's Waltz," the famous Puccini aria from La Boheme, will be heard on Broadway in fall 2002, following an out-of-town tryout for the Baz Luhrmann-directed revival of classic opera.
The brassy, free-spirited Musetta and her compadres, the poet Rudolpho and the consumptive Mimi — better known to theatre audiences in their more modern Rent guises as Maureen, Roger and Mimi — will sing and dance on the Great White Way in Puccini's original opera, in Italian. Filmdom's Baz Luhrmann ("Moulin Rouge," "Romeo + Juliet") helms this audacious new version, set in the 1950s, recreating his work from a decade ago in Australia. Plans for Broadway and tryout venues and dates are being finalized, the producers announced Oct. 23. Casting has not been made public. The opera was previously announced to for Broadway for spring 2002.
Ironically, Rent's producers Kevin McCollum and Jeffrey Seller are bringing the opera to Broadway, along with Emanuel Azenberg (The Dinner Party, Stones in His Pockets, 45 Seconds From Broadway). Rent used La Boheme, one of the world's most-revived operas, as source material. The original story mirrors the Jonathan Larson rock musical with the central plot of a young woman who approaches her artistic upstairs neighbor to light her candle, after which they fall deeply and tragically in love. The opera's Mimi is a seamstress (as opposed to Rent's exotic-dancer Mimi), and Rudolpho's bohemian companions are a painter, a musician and a philosopher. Also, unlike Rent, Mimi dies at the end of the opera, leaving the poet Rudolpho alone.
Luhrmann directed an extremely successful staging of La Boheme, set in the '50s, at the Sydney Opera House in 1990, and it was later revived, videotaped and televised. His Other credits include the dance film "Strictly Ballroom" and 1999's "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)." His post modern movie musical, "Moulin Rouge," with Nicole Kidman, released over the summer, will get a re-release later this year. The Luhrmann TV presentation of La Boheme was seen by Azenberg about six years ago, and he told Seller about it back then, as Rent was preparing for Off-Broadway. Seller said Azenberg was moved by the youth of the Luhrmann production — it was cast not for jowly opera divas but sexy young singers, who sang the Puccini in Italian. Seller said he remembers thinking five years ago that it would be great to mount La Boheme on Broadway and Rent Off-Broadway at the same time. Now, it seems a sure thing that the long-running Rent (which turned five April 29) and La Boheme will be uptown neighbors, on Broadway in 2002.
In order to find their Mimi, Rudolpho and Musetta, producers of La Boheme held open casting auditions in three U.S. Cities (San Francisco, Chicago and Houston), as well as New York City.