Rehearsals have just begun for Puccini’s La bohème!
On our recent promotional photoshoot, we caught up with soprano Katie Bird and tenor Thomas Atkins, who will play Mimì and Rodolfo this Autumn…*
Tell us a bit about your character.
Katie: Mimì is a neighbour to all of the boys in the building that they all live in. She is a seamstress and quite a simple soul – in her first aria (‘Mi chiamano Mimì’), she tells Rodolfo that there is not much that she can say about herself, “I’m just your neighbour who has disturbed you”. She’s also a bit of a dreamer.
Thomas: Rodolfo is a poet, and a guy that feels everything very deeply. I think he’s a character who many people can relate to, because once you fall in love, you get a bit crazy and feel all these things so much more than you would normally!
Why does La bohème have such enduring appeal?
Katie: It’s a story about real people and real relationships. For example, in Act III, Marcello and Musetta have a domestic and call each other all kinds of names – because that’s real life! And at the same time, Mimì and Rodolfo talk about splitting up, but because they are poor, they agree to wait until the spring time when it won’t be so hard – “let’s keep warm and stay together during the winter”. People can relate to the emotions.
Thomas: La bohème is a story that everyone can understand – we’ve all potentially been through it ourselves as any of the characters.
What makes La bohème a great choice for a first opera?
Katie: You can’t help but fall in love with the characters. You laugh, you smile, you cry – it has everything, and the music is stunning. It’s a bit like being in a film, and you get to peep inside these dreamers’ lives. And it’s very romantic – everybody loves romance!
Thomas: If it’s your first time at the opera, La bohème is just perfect – you’ve got love, tragedy, heartbreak, joy, comedy and some of the most beautiful music ever written.
Do you have a favourite moment in the score?
Katie: There’s a moment I absolutely love near the end where all the characters go, leaving Mimì and Rodolfo on their own. There’s a beautiful bit of music that is like the sun shining in on the room. She wakes up and says, “Have they gone? I wasn’t asleep, I just wanted to be alone with you.” It’s very sad, but it’s more emotional if the character herself remains strong and doesn’t get upset. I’ve been told before, “Don’t you dare cry”!
Thomas: As a tenor I think we all grow up and spend our entire time in training dreaming of singing that final “Mimì!” at the very end. It’s got to be a favourite moment!
What are you looking forward to about starting rehearsals for La bohème?
Katie: I just love this opera! All the characters are fantastic and there’s such a wonderful camaraderie between all the boys (a poet, painter, musician etc.) – it’s really interesting to see what type of relationships people build up over the rehearsal process and all the different sparks. It’s the opera I’ve done most in my life, and playing Mimì is like coming home. I can’t wait!
Thomas: It’s always incredibly exciting to start the process, and seeing as this is a revival, there is a lot of history behind the production and we can get to take all that on and evolve it. And it’s always lovely to meet new colleagues!
*The role of Mimì is split between Katie Bird and Lauren Fagan, and the role of Rodolfo between Thomas Atkins and Eleazar Rodriguez. See performance dates »