Young artists, destitute in the big city, struggling bravely onward despite hunger, disease, the cruel elements and their own fears and momentary weaknesses — yeah, Puccini's La Bohéme has it all. Savor the troubled romance of Mimi (she's the one with the fetching little cough) and Rodolfo (he cares for Mimi too much to keep her in poverty), enjoy the opportunistic love affair of Marcello (callow painter but good friend) and Musetta (briefly a coquettish gold digger) from a comfortable distance and revel in all of that gorgeous music. Happiness and sadness go hand in glove for the Bohemians, who are brave enough to live life fully in the face of death. Ah, it's romance writ large; no wonder Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opens its season with sure-fire crowd-pleaser La Bohéme at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 23, at the Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves; 314-961-0644 or www.experienceopera.org). There are seven additional performances in the next month, the last on Saturday, June 27. Tickets are $25 to $117.
Sat., May 23, 8 p.m.; Thu., June 4, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 6, 8 p.m.; Wed., June 10, 8 p.m.; Fri., June 12, 8 p.m.; Sun., June 14, 7 p.m.; Wed., June 17, 1 p.m.; Sat., June 20, 8 p.m.; Sat., June 27, 1 p.m., 2009