WESTFIELD, NJ — One of the world’s best-loved operas comes to Westfield on Saturday, March 5, when the New Jersey Festival Orchestra season continues with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” The Joseph DeAlessandro Memorial Opera Concert featuring a full presentation of Puccini’s “La Boheme,” sung in Italian with supertitles, acted and in costume.

Stage manager Maria Todaro explained what makes this production (set in 2016 Paris with some modern twists) especially enjoyable.

For one thing, she said, there's “the incredible talent of the cast — they are remarkable singers but also actors — their youth, their energy, which enhance even more the drama."

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All corners of the space will be used in the production, “giving the audience a ‘surround sound system + 360 angle camera’ experience,” she said, “plus more surprises. And an intelligent revision of the score to fit our parameters by Maestro Wroe.”

A story of doomed young lovers in bohemian society, "La Boheme" is the inspiration behind the musical “Rent.” 

“People who’ve seen 'Rent' will go into it knowing more than they thought they would,” said singer Suzanne Vinnik, who plays Mimi (who, in this production, is not a seamstress but a tattoo artist).

And those who think they’re unfamiliar with the music will likely be surprised, she said.

“‘Boheme’ is like pop songs of opera. Everybody knows songs from ‘La Boheme,” Vinnik said.

Known for its devastating ending, the opera includes plenty of reasons to smile, too.

“The ending has to be one of the most heart-breaking moments in opera history,” Music Director and Conductor David Wroe said. “That a group of penniless friends are inevitably overcome by the crushing oppression of poverty — one paying the ultimate price after finding true love — usually brings the house to tears. In stark contrast, the ending of Act 2, with two unlikely lovers — Marcello and Musetta — finding each other again in a climactic frenzy of comic activity is another favorite moment which, similarly, brings the house down.” 

“Bohemian Rhapsody” takes place Saturday, March 5, at 7 p.m. at The Presbyterian Church in Westfield. Discounted student tickets are available for $13. For tickets and information call 908-232-9400 or visit www.njfestivalorchestra.org.