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PREVIEW: Puccini’s ‘La bohème’ at Tanglewood, ideal for opera newbies

The opera is famous not so much for its plot as for its melodies, which make it one of Puccini’s most accessible works and an ideal starting point for opera newbies.

Lenox — On Saturday, July 14, the Boston Symphony Orchestra will present a semi-staged production of one of the best loved operas of all time: Giacomo Puccini’s “La bohème.” The opera is famous not so much for its plot as for its melodies, which make it one of Puccini’s most accessible works and an ideal starting point for opera newbies. The venue, too, is ideal for newbies, because concert-staged operas at Tanglewood allow first-time listeners to focus entirely on the music without the distraction of supernumerary performers or elaborate sets and backdrops. (Such bells and whistles are, in the case of many large-scale opera productions, best saved for subsequent viewings.)

Saturday’s concert will be the BSO’s first complete performance of “La bohème” on any stage. Sung in Italian with English supertitles, the opera is in four acts with a 20-minute intermission after Act 2. Andris Nelsons conducts the BSO, and James Burton conducts the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and Boston Symphony Children’s Choir. Soloists (most of whom perform regularly with the Metropolitan Opera) are, as usual, some of the best singers in the world.

If you’ve never experienced opera at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, you should aim to do so at least once in your life. But not everyone can afford it (especially not starving Bohemians.) Semi-staged opera performances at Tanglewood are the next best thing.

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