La Bohème Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opens its 34th season with Giacomo Puccini's magnificent tearjerker and all-time-great "date opera." The English translation of Bohème is alive with puns and wordplay Puccini would have loved. Director Tim Ocel and his spirited young cast use this wonderful libretto to paint a lively and vivid picture of a bunch of hipsters and dropouts living the Bohemian life in Paris' Latin Quarter at the cusp of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The six principal singers have fabulous stage chemistry. They act as well as they sing — and boy, can they sing. Through June 27 at the Loretto-Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves. Tickets are $25 to $117 ($15 for students, K-12 teachers and active military, subject to availability). Call 314-961-0644 or visit www.opera-stl.org.
— Lew Prince
The Last 5 Years Reviewed in this issue.
The Merry Wives of Windsor This summer's annual offering from Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is an amiable romp. For four centuries critics have had little good to say about this featherweight comedy in which the mischievous Sir John Falstaff (John Livingstone Rolle) attempts to woo two married women. But director Jesse Berger has brought an admirably specific approach to the material. How refreshing to see a production of Shakespeare where we know where we are and who is who. These characters actually have motivations for their often-foolish behavior. Foremost among the performers is Daniel Talbott, whose portrayal of a jealous husband would be worth the price of admission (if there were an admission). Talbott never puts the text ahead of the character, yet he makes sure the audience can follow every word he says even as we understand every emotion he's feeling. This is how Shakespeare should be acted. Performed nightly (except Tuesdays) through June 13 on Art Hill in Forest Park. Admission is free. Call 314-531-9800 or visit www.sfstl.com.
— Dennis Brown
Salome Reviewed in this issue.
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