Submitted by Kelly Lang Buckley
Director of Development & Marketing
The story resonates – that's why Peter and Karen D'Angelo advocated to the NACC opera committee to produce “La Bohéme” at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, Oct. 21-23.
The NACC has been celebrating international opera day and the legacy of opera in the Buffalo/Niagara Region for over 10 years with help from Katherine Johnson and The Erwin H. Johnson Fund.
But none of them had ever produced a full opera with sets, costumes and orchestra. There was always a reason not to – the theater was too old, there was not enough staff, there was no money, where would they find that many opera singers? How could they accommodate a full orchestra? Who would come to an opera in Niagara Falls at an old high school?
But then the world changed. A pandemic taught us life is short. Tragedy will happen if you are cautious, or if you live life to the fullest. So, they decided to take a risk and follow their dreams to use their talents and determination to make something beautiful.
They decided to bring Puccini's most beloved opera, “La Bohéme,” to life on the stage of the NACC.
The passionate, timeless and indelible story of love among young artists in Paris was perfect. Sung in Italian, the story follows the lives of struggling artists who have chosen to take up residence in the Latin quarter of Paris – just like the artists with studios in little Italy at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center in Niagara Falls.
Over the past year, the group has raised funds, borrowed equipment, and repurposed materials to create a 100%-recycled set and custom orchestra pit. Members recruited top musicians and singers, local costume-makers, historians, wig-makers, painters, poets, translators and woodworkers to bring their talents together to help build a better future for the NACC and the surrounding neighborhoods.
This week, they invite you to see the results.
Tickets are now on sale.
This performance is two days only, and will raise money for the restoration of the historic building – and help the arts center continue its mission to bring arts and cultural experiences to the community.
Find tickets at Eventbrite – ticket sales.
Jenna Washburn and Karen D’Angelo sing at the NACC.
The Niagara Arts and Cultural Center presents “La Bohéme.” The opera is on stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $30 presale or $35 at the door. For more information, call 716-282-7530.
Ticket/dinner packages are available from Fortuna's Restaurant (dinner both days), 716 282-2252); Webster's Bistro (Sunday dinner), 716-264-4314; Starry Night Café (Sunday brunch), 716-371-2026.
There is complimentary park and ride shuttle service to the event from the Discover Niagara Shuttle.
Behind the Scenes
“La Bohéme” features the voices of: Jenna Washburn, Karen D’Angelo, James Judd, Brandon Mecklenburg, Kyle Botsford, Timothy Flynn and Stephen Edge. It is conducted by James Welsh. Musicians include Erica Austin, Gretchen Fisher, Alan Reed, Bob Donwick, Alex Cousins, James Benders, Erin Keppner, Sean Patrick Crawford, Christine Ford, Jordan Bidwell, Michael Goss and Paul Haag.
Katherine Johnson is chair of the NACC opera committee. Key roles include Artistic Director Karen D'Angelo, Music Director/Conductor James Welch, Stage Director Peter D'Angelo, Assistant Stage Manager Stephanie Smith, Technical Director Wesley Krantz, Costumer Jordan Stover, lighting consultant Patrick Murphy, artist and designer Ylli Haruni, cafe word art from Sarah Sanders and Wooden Signs from Victor Marwin.
Ylli Haruni has created a custom poster design for “La Bohéme” featuring the NACC building.