Opera Returns to Jacoby Symphony Hall

For more than 70 years, Jacksonville locals have flocked to the city’s one and only Performing Arts Center, located right on the edge of the St. Johns River in the heart of downtown, to experience world-class concerts performed by the Jacksonville Symphony. Whether your musical palate prefers the sounds of Beethoven and Brahms or perhaps the violin section rocking along to the music of Queen, the Jacksonville Symphony has something for everyone.

This season, the musical and creative talent of the symphony brings something special and incredibly unique back to the symphony hall: known for its stunning costumes, unrivaled voices, and unmatched drama, opera makes its grand return to Jacoby Symphony Hall.

Just as every Mozart symphony performed will have its own distinctive sound (influenced by the musicians, conductor, symphony hall, etc.), no two opera performances are ever the same. But when you bring in a stage director from the Metropolitan Opera, a world-class vocal cast, and add 30-foot projection screens and a set unlike any other, you get an opera experience that can only be found here in Jacksonville.

For two performances only (Friday, April 29 and Sunday, May 1), Jacksonville has the opportunity to hear what is widely considered to be the most popular opera in history: Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème. With soaring melodies and a story that rings as true today as it did at its premiere in 1896, La Bohème lets us encounter the many faces of love we are all familiar with: passion, joy, jealousy, regret, and sacrifice. It is an opportunity to fall in love again as we watch Mimi and Rodolfo’s relationship blossom and the tumultuous on-again-off-again flare of Musetta and Marcello’s romance. 

But what makes this Jacksonville Symphony production so special? In most opera productions, the orchestra is placed in the orchestra pit while the singers perform on stage, much like musical theater. This production will be symphonically staged (a term coined by the symphony) with an elevated playing space built around the onstage orchestra. Encircling this set are three 30-foot-tall screens that allow vivid projections to capture a sense of place and concept throughout the opera. This gives the symphony the opportunity to retain the stunning drama embedded in the opera while performing in our acoustically glorious home, Jacoby Symphony Hall.

Another wonderfully unique characteristic is the setting. Originally set in 1890s Paris, Stage Director Gregory Keller (a familiar face at the Metropolitan Opera) has set the symphony’s production to encapsulate the glitz, glam, and grittiness of 1979 Studio 54. Audiences will see characters evocative of Andy Warhol, Liza Minnelli, Elton John, and the Rat Pack set against this Bohemian era of New York City. 

This everyday story, set in an extraordinary place, is an experience you will only find for one weekend. Two performances to meet six beloved characters figuring their way through each day, chasing a dream, and filled with passion for the work they do—much like the rest of us. Come on a journey with us and experience the wonder of Puccini’s La Bohème.

Tickets at jaxsymphony.org or 904.354.5547

Author: Arbus

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