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Opera Studio's 'Boheme': Almost as Good as It Gets

Monday, April 18, 2005; Page C05

The "La Boheme" now running at the Maryland Opera Studio in alternation with Handel's "Giulio Cesare" is about as good as any "Boheme" you are likely to see this side of the Metropolitan Opera or Covent Garden. The Opera Studio, established, according to its own description, "to prepare singers for the professional opera stage," comes on as a fully professional enterprise, not only in singing and acting but in stage direction, lighting, makeup, scenery and costumes. The "Boheme" presented Saturday night at the University of Maryland's Clarice Smith Center had maximum impact from the chilled but boisterous opening to the despairing final curtain.

The proficient student orchestra and adult and boy choruses are in the hands of Jeffrey Rink, a conductor well established in an international career, and the stage director is Pat Diamond, whose credits include Broadway as well as many opera companies across the United States. The singing is vividly expressive from the top to the bottom of the cast. Angela Marchese is a sympathetic Mimi, Nicholas Houhoulis a charming Rodolfo. Jason Kaminski and Jennifer Royall make a volatile couple as Marcello and Musetta, and Bobb Robinson is a polished comedian in the small roles of Benoit and Alcindoro. Eugene Galvin (Colline) is very touching in the Act 4 coat song.

There will be repeat performances Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

-- Joe McLellan

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