Cape Town Opera stages La Bohème at Artscape

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A scene from La Boheme

Cape Town Opera stages both operas and concerts in South Africa and abroad. Their latest production, La Boheme, can be seen until 16 May. Steyn du Toit asked CTO's Lesley Liddle about the show.

Apart from staging operas, what other work does Cape Town Opera get involved in?

Cape Town Opera stages both operas and concerts in South Africa and abroad. We also work with high schools nationwide and assist them with the preparation for the Tirisano Eidstedfodd Competitions.

Why is it important for organisations such as CTO to exist and operate in every country?

Opera has gained momentum and interest with young South Africans. There are some wonderful voices coming to the fore and so many are spreading their wings and creating international careers for themselves.

You will be staging La Boheme next. What is it about this opera that makes it so timeless?

La Boheme is a classic – in fact one of the three most frequently performed operas. This is an opera packed with famous arias, soaring ensembles and heart-warming moments that make Puccini’s characters some of the most loveable in opera.

Take us through the plot quickly - what happens?

Puccini’s story brings four characters to life: the poet Rodolfo, his great love the terminally ill seamstress Mimì, the charismatic singer Musetta, and her on-off lover, the painter Marcello. The four of them carouse in the bars of Paris when they can afford to, and in Marcello’s garret when they can’t.

As a bitter winter sets in, Mimì’s health worsens, and she and Rodolfo decide she would be better off finding herself a sugar daddy. But this being opera and their being Bohemian, the force of their passion prevails and Mimì draws her last breath in true Bohemian fashion - penniless but in love, surrounded by her friends. Cue tears.

With its snow scenes, live marching bands and the supremely evocative, elegant, almost sepia-tinted sets of award-winning designer Michael Mitchell, this is likely to be a very exciting production. Set in a Paris newly liberated from the Nazis, the sense of world change and philosophical enlightenment is as vivid as the physical and mental scars of recent war. Despite the cold and the hunger and the penury, there is a new future on the horizon, embodied by the American GIs – brazenly flashy in their shiny Jeeps. A “free” future where ideas and ideals are shared and life is no longer a struggle.

What are two highlights in this production that opera-goers must look out for during the performance?

Mimì's most beautiful and famous aria, "Sì, mi chiamano Mimì" when she introduces herself to Rodolfo (played by Roberto Alagna).

What else will CTO be staging in the near future?

The company departs for a tour of Porgy and Bess and Mandela Trilogy to the UK, Melbourne and Berlin in June, July and August.

La Boheme can be seen untill 16 May at Artscape. To read more about CTO, or to book tickets, visit

LitNet has two sets of double tickets to give away for the May 9th performance of La Bohème. Send an email with your name, telephone number and "La Boheme" as subject to


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