Musetta's Waltz," one of La Boheme's famous arias, will be heard on Broadway in Spring 2002. The brassy free spirit 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. Filmdom's Baz Luhrmann ("Moulin Rouge," "Romeo + Juliet") directs.
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). Rent used La Boheme, one of the world's most popular 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 not an exotic dancer, but a seamstress, and her and Rudolpho's bohemian companions are merely a painter, a musician and a philosopher, not a filmmaker and a cross-dresser. Also, unlike Rent, Mimi dies at the end of her opera, leaving the poet Rudolpho alone.
Luhrmann directed an extremely successful staging of La Boheme, set in the 1950's, 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 the 1999 hit, "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)."
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 turns five April 29) and La Boheme will be uptown neighbors, on Broadway in spring 2002.
In order to find their Mimi, Rudolpho and Musetta, La Boheme will hold open casting auditions in three U.S. cities: San Francisco, Chicago and Houston. San Francisco holds auditions April 30-May 1, Chicago, May 2-3 and Houston, May 9-10. Performers who can play characters in their 20s and 30s should prepare an Italian aria, preferably from La Boheme. New York casting has been ongoing in recent months. Any persons interested in auditioning should fax a picture and resume to Telsey Casting ATTN: La Boheme at (212) 868-1261 or mail them to Telsey Casting, 145 West 28th Street #12F, New York, NY 10001 ATTN: La Boheme.