Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre presents the première of a new production of La Boheme of Giacomo Puccini.
Belgian director Jean-François D’hondt was invited to stage the production. Viewers will see the updated opera on June 19, as well as on June 26, and July 3 and 4. It is on this day that the 211st theatrical season of the Odessa Opera Theatre will close.
Due to quarantine, the premiere was postponed several times, but finally the audience will be able to appreciate the innovative directorial concept of Jean-François D’hondt, urban sets by set designer Marc Cnops and contemporary costumes by artist Nancy Avondts.
Paris at the end of the 20th century, which we show in this performance, like Paris at the end of the 19th century, is a city full of social inequality. A city where decline and poverty coexist with luxury, a city of confrontations between yellow vests and bohemians with bourgeois and majors … Each situation described by Puccini and his librettist is actualised in today’s reality and affects the transformation of the images of the main characters and their interaction.Jean-François D’hondt
The Odessa Opera expects that the “modernised” “La Boheme” will attract the attention of a young audience. Much attention in the production is paid to how the modern version of the social interaction of the main characters looks, how, from a psychological and social point of view, people behave differently today than in those days.
The decoration by designer Marc Cnops and the new costumes by Nancy Avondts are modern, contrary to the usual operatic tradition. This is an urban concrete and metal loft where the artists live instead of the traditional wooden attic space.
This year “La Boheme” celebrates its 125th anniversary. It is interesting that the Odessa audience got acquainted with one of the most popular operas by Puccini just 2 years after its world premiere in Turin in 1896. As the newspapers wrote, the Novaya Opera “charmed the audience with poetry and romance”, “La Boheme” immediately took its rightful place in Odessa enterprises with the participation of the then famous Giuseppe Anselmi, Giannini Vaida, Medea Figner, Sergei Lemeshev and remained in the repertoire to this day.
The opera was last shown in 2018. For almost 123 years “La Boheme” has reigned on the theatre stage and is a favourite of music lovers.
The international creative team of this production is convinced that the story they “tell” will allow one to plunge into the world of deep and sincere feelings, reflect on the past and present of the world of human feelings, be sure to once again be convinced of the boundless beauty of Maestro Puccini’s “La Bohème” music.
Jean-François D’hondt – production director, Belgium
Graduate of the Royal Institute for Theater, Film and Sound (RITCS Brussels) with a degree in director and producer (1982). He began his creative career as an assistant director at the National Opera “La Monnaie” (Brussels), worked at the Flemish Opera and the Royal Dutch Theater (Antwerp). He worked for national television stations in Belgium as a director and producer of musical television projects. Produced concerts of the Center for Fine Arts in Brussels (Bozar) by such outstanding musicians as Valery Gergiev, Jonas Kaufmann, Cecilia Bartoli, Zubin Meta, Juan Diego Flores, Daniel Barenboim, Sir Simon Rattle.
In seasons 2022 – 2023 under his leadership the performances “Mephistopheles”, “Orpheus and Eurydice” and “Adriana Lecouvreur” will be held in Bulgaria. Jean-François Dionde is currently producing and directing at the Music Hall and Teatro Cinque.
Nancy Avondts – costume designer, Belgium
Studied art and photography in Antwerp and Ghent. Received a specialisation in costume design. The first step towards professional realisation took place as an assistant to the costume designer in the musicals “Cats” and “The Wizard of Oz”, in the production of the opera “Parsifal” for the Flemish Opera and “La Bohème” for the Music Hall. She has worked in the music department at Ballet van Vlaanderen on the films “Jekyll and Hyde” and “The King and Me”. For over 11 years she headed the costumes department at Studio 100, a major commercial center for musicals. Collaborated with the famous Belgian designer Kaat Tilly. In 2018, Nancy Avondts returned to the theater and became a costume designer at the Music Hall.
The Odessa audience had the opportunity to get acquainted with the works of Nancy, which she prepared for the stage version of “Carmina Burana” directed by Gerard Mosterd.
Marc Cnops – set designer, Belgium
Graduate of the Royal Institute for Theatre, Film and Sound (RITCS Brussels 1973). Early in his career, he worked in film and television as a production designer and art director. Subsequently, his sets and costumes have adorned the performances of the leading theaters in Amsterdam, Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent. For 29 years he was a production designer at the Raam theatre in Antwerp. Since 2009 he has been teaching performing arts at the renowned Artemis High School in Antwerp. The production of La Bohème is his second collaboration with Jean-François. Together they staged the play “Saturday, Sunday and Monday” by Eduardo de Filippo at the Brussels Folklore Theatre in 2019.