Virginia Tech is showing a free, live broadcast of Washington National Opera's edgy new production of Puccini’s La Bohème on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. at the Lyric Theatre in downtown Blacksburg.

Virginia Tech is one of 32 schools across the country locally presenting the live simulcast from the Opera House stage at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. This event is anticipated to be the largest ever, simultaneous viewing of an opera in the world, with more than 45,000 expected viewers.

“This is a great opportunity for students at Virginia Tech and other area institutions to expose themselves to opera and to one of the most appealing operas ever written,” said Theodore Sipes, assistant professor of voice in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. It’s a very generous gesture on the part of Washington National Opera, and I am so pleased the university has been included in the list of schools across the nation that will be hosting the simulcast.”

Prior to the simulcast, Washington National Opera will share educational materials with the schools on three topics. One area of discussion is: “Bohéme: How It Transcends Medium.” This will examine the evolution of the work from book to opera, musical theatre (Rent and Baz Lurhman’s recent Broadway production) and film. Special focus will be paid to Trelinski’s approach to his new contemporary production for Washington National Opera.

Second is “Where are the Bohemians?” This is an examination of the social issues that arise in the work and how they remain relevant to audiences over time. This will help make the themes of opera more personal to audiences. Third, is the Opera Forum with Washington National Opera’s young artists, directors and conductors on the practical needs of developing a professional opera career. An online message board gives students around the country a place to pose questions or get information from Washington National Opera staff and key educators at participating institutions.

Trelinski’s La Bohème, from Teatr Wielki National Opera Warsaw, is a fitting modern-day take on the timeless opera. Set in the present day, Rodolfo is a photographer and part of a contemporary group of artists searching for their identity and longing for a deeper and more profound connection with society. The opera is a human drama of loss and love, as the characters struggle with their careers and to truly connect with each other in a world that is increasingly connected technologically. As such, the opera’s theme will resonate with younger audiences.

Advance tickets are available at the UUSA Ticket Office located in the Squires Student Center on College Avenue. Seating starts at 1 p.m. Unclaimed seats will be released at 1:45 p.m. For more information, call Virginia Tech Department of Music at (540) 231-5685.

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