The perfect opera for first-timers and longtimers, Center for the Arts at Kayenta presents ‘La Bohéme’

Composite image. Background photo shows the Center for the Arts at Kayenta in Ivins, Utah, date not specified. Foreground image features promotional image for La bohéme | Photo and image courtesy of the Center for the Arts at Kayenta, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — World-class performers are set to give Southern Utah a Broadway-caliber theater experience at a fraction of the cost.

For three nights in October, the Center for the Arts at Kayenta is proud to present “La bohéme” performed by the St. George Opera — the perfect opera for first-timers and longtimers, a press release from the center said.

If you’ve never been to a live opera performance, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. If you’re curious, David Sauer, general director of St. George Opera and opera tenor, said “La bohéme” is definitely the first opera you should see.

Sauer said “La bohéme” shows off what opera is all about: “passion, expressed through moving melodies, a compelling story, striking costumes and dazzling sets.”

“The music of ‘La bohéme’ is some of the most beautiful and famous ever written and the plot is captivating,” he said in the press release. “Opera as an art form was created to show off the very best in humans’ creative achievements.”

In the 21st century, opera’s base of raving fans has grown, thanks in part to the Broadway hit musical “Rent,” which is actually based on “La bohéme.”

Puccini’s famous four-act Italian opera plays out the tragic love affair between the poor poet Rodolfo and an equally poor seamstress, Mimi, in the Latin Quarter of 19th century Paris. Along the way, their story becomes hilariously and dramatically intertwined with their group of friends , neighbors, artistic roommates, lovers and others.

But as far as which version to see, Sauer recommends you see the performances coming to Kayenta in October for two reasons: the performers and the venue.

“We have a cast of world-class performers in our production whose vocal and stage talents are extraordinary,” Sauer said.

As to the venue, Sauer said he can’t overstate how much the “intimate black box theater” at the Center for the Arts at Kayenta heightens the experience.

“Audiences get to see the subtleties and nuances of facial expressions, gestures … details you wouldn’t be able to see in a large theater. It’s like watching a live movie.”

Are opera fans on to something? Come to “La bohéme” and find out. Tickets are selling for a fraction of what the show costs to produce, Sauer said, adding that “you may just have one of the best nights of your life.”

The cast

Sauer, who plays the poet Rodolfo, has drawn praise from the New York Times, Opera News, Salt Lake Tribune and others for his “handsome voice” and “striking performance and vocal refinement.”

David Sauer, date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Center for the Arts at Kayenta, St. George News

Soprano Kathryn Grumley plays the seamstress Mimi. She has been praised by the Grunion Gazette for her ability to sing “beautifully and with impressive musicality.” South Florida Classical Review recognized her ability to “dominate the stage, owning every scene from the rise of the curtain.”

She was awarded First Place in the Artist Division of the National Opera Association’s Carolyn Bailey & Dominick Argento Vocal Competition in 2019.

Baritone Christopher Clayton, who plays the part of Marcello, a painter, is a rising talent on the operatic stage. Among his recent roles are Alvaro in “Florencia en el Amazonas,” Friedrich Baer in Adamo’s” Little Women with Utah Opera,” Conte di Luna in “Il Trovatore” with St. Petersburg Opera and Germont in “La Traviata.”

Soprano Michelle Pedersen, as Musetta, has been praised for her full voice and dramatic ability. Earlier this year she played Mimi in “La bohème” with the American West Symphony and as Mother Marie in “Dialogues of the Carmelites” with Utah Lyric Opera Ensemble.

Tyrell Wilde plays Colline, a philosopher. Wilde’s numerous awards include BYU Singer of the Year, first place at Cal-West NATS Regional Competition and second place in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions.

Baritone Gregory R. Watts, playing Benoit and Alcindoro, has sung with Utah Opera, Lyrical Opera Theater, the American West Symphony, High Desert Opera, Grand Junction Symphony, the Orchestra of Southern Utah and the Sacramento Messiah Society.

Baritone Stephen Pace plays Schaunard, a musician. He began his vocal studies at Brigham Young University where he performed the title role in “Don Giovanni,” Captain Corcoran in “H.M.S. Pinafore,” Luiz in “The Gondoliers,” Schlemil and Crespel in “Les contes d’Hoffmann” and Antonio in “W.A. Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.”

Pace has performed many roles in his career, among them as a vocal soloist with Ballet West’s productions of Aaron Copland’s “Old American Songs” and Francis Poulenc’s “Les Biches” in 2009. 

Director Robert Breault’s international career has taken him across the U.S. and all over Europe. Currently the director of opera at the University of Utah, he brings his acclaimed staging of “La bohéme” that was last seen in Italy in 2017 to Southern Utah for the first time. 

Rebecca Pacheko, date and location unspecified | Photo courtesy of Center for the Arts at Kayenta, St. George News

Music director Rebecca Pacheco has been a featured producer, pianist and composer on multiple albums that have reached No. 1 in the Billboard Classical Crossover category. In past seasons, she has been a conductor, assistant, principal coach and pianist for some of the most respected music companies in the country, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council and Main Stage Auditions, the Dallas Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Palm Beach Opera, Utah Symphony & Opera, Ballet West, the Curtis Institute of Music, Opera Delaware, Utah Festival Opera, Utah Lyric Opera and Opera Idaho.

Come early on the first two nights of the performance and enjoy a delicious two-course Italian meal courtesy of Chef Alfredo’s Ristorante Italiano, with wine available for purchase.

Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m. on the outdoor plaza. Dinner will not be served on Oct. 11; however, the concurrent Art In Kayenta Festival will have a wine and beer garden and food for sale before 6 p.m. 

In case of inclement weather, dinner will be served in the Lorberbaum-Stahl studio adjacent to the theater. 

Subtitles will be provided on the screen. Tickets can be purchased online here

Event details

  • What: Center for the Arts at Kayenta presents “La bohéme.”
  • When: Oct. 3, 5 and 11 at 7:30 p.m. Dinner 5:30-7 p.m.
  • Where: Center for the Arts at Kayenta, 881 Coyote Gulch Court, Ivins.
  • Cost: Opera: $30, $10 for students with ID; dinner: $25, Get $5 off when you purchase two tickets to both ($110 total).  Select “Dinner and a show” option on the dropdown ticketing menu.
  • Purchase tickets online here.

    • S P O N S O R E D  C O N T E N T •

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