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Thunderous applause raised the roof at the Emirates Palace Auditorium last night, as the curtain fell on Abu Dhabi Festival 2010's presentation of the Puccini Festival Opera's acclaimed La Bohème

26th Mar 2010

Puccini Festival Opera presents stunning stage production of La Bohème

Thunderous applause raised the roof at the Emirates Palace Auditorium last night, as the curtain fell on Abu Dhabi Festival 2010's presentation of the Puccini Festival Opera's acclaimed La Bohème – the first ever full-scale operatic production in the UAE capital. 

In the UAE performance of this much-loved opera by Giacomo Puccini, a host of international stars took to the stage, including Puerto-Rican soprano Ana María Martínez as Mimi and New Zealand soprano Ana James as Musetta, along with Italian tenor Luciano Ganci as Rodolfo. The British baritone George von Bergen played Marcello, Italian bass-baritone Tiziano Bracci, Schaunard and Canadian bass-baritone Robert Gleadow was Colline.    

Organised by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), The Abu Dhabi Festival 2010 is held under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and runs from 20 March until 7 April. Last night's performance was attended by VIPs including Massimiliano Simoni, President of the Puccini Festival Foundation and H.E. Paolo Dionisi, Italian ambassador to the UAE.

La Bohème is a four-act opera set in 1830s Paris, charting the passionate romance between capricious, doomed artist Mimi and her devoted suitor, the handsome poet Rodolfo. In a highlight of her dazzling performance as Mimi, Ana María Martínez held the audience spellbound as she delivered one of libretto's most famous arias, Si, mi chiamano Mimi” – “Yes, they call me Mimi” while Ana James as Musetta matched her performance with “Quando me n’vò – "When I go along”.  In another show-stopping scene, an ensemble performance by Ana María Martínez, Ana James, Luciano Ganci and George von Bergen rendered “Addio dolce svegliare alla mattina!” – "Goodbye, sweet awakening in the morning” beautifully, at the end of the third act.

Some of the opera’s most famous duets are between principals Rodolfo and Mimi and were warmly appreciated by last night’s audience. including the enchanting "Che gelida manima" – "Your tiny hand is frozen" when they first meet,  “O soave fanciulla”"Oh gentle maiden" as they sing about their new found love and "Te lo rammenti" – "Ah! Do you remember" when they reminisce about their time together.  The emotional drama intensifies until the tragic climax and the death of Mimi.

Speaking directly after the performance, HE Hoda I. Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, commented:

“ADMAF is very proud to have presented the first full-scale opera with the passionate and moving telling of the story of La Bohème. We are especially pleased to have the world-class  Puccini Festival Opera perform with a dazzling line-up of soloists. Abu Dhabi Festival is engaging in partnerships with more and more festivals around the world. Our collaboration with the Puccini Festival is an excellent example of how this works so well.  It is through these relationships that we are able to bring such high quality productions to the UAE capital.”

The Puccini Opera Festival is held every summer in Torre del Lago, the town where Puccini lived, and inspired his enduring masterpieces. Massimiliano Simoni, its President, comments:

“It is a great honour to have been invited to the Abu Dhabi Festival. It's the crowning of a dream to bring Puccini with a complete opera to the Arab world. I hope it can be the beginning of a long collaboration.”

Alberto Veronesi, conductor of The Puccini Festival Opera comments:

"I'm very honoured and proud to bring one of the most popular operas in the world, La Bohème by Puccini, for the the very first time to the prestigious Abu Dhabi Festival. It is an ideal platform for the music of Puccini, a man who was fascinated by different cultures in the Western and Eastern worlds. I live on a great Island, Sicily, and I love the island capital of Abu Dhabi, a place where Arabic culture leaves a heritage of invaluable beauty."


Abu Dhabi Festival 2010

This year’s Festival is a feast of arts and culture with more than 90 events over three weeks, fusing world-class performances in traditional, classical and jazz music, drama, fine arts, and ballet.   The visual art exhibition and rich community and education programs will assert the position of the festival as the emirate’s premier celebration of culture. The Festival has ambitious aims, not only to provide entertainment, but to be a platform where commissioning works, partnerships, world premieres and cross-cultural debates take place.

Tickets for the Festival are on sale from, Virgin Megastores (Abu Dhabi Mall and Mall of the Emirates Dubai) and Emirates Palace (12pm-6pm).  Part of the proceeds will go to the Ewaa Shelter for Women and Children. More information can be found at