Baz Takes on Puccini

SAN FRANCISCO — Who says opera has to be a yawn? Not husband and wife team, director Baz Luhrmann and the set and costume designer Catherine Martin, whose current revival of "La Bohème" is intended for an audience of all ages. Fans...

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For the romantics among us, bohemian Paris also plays a starring role. The busy intersection in the second act (pictured in the set model) serves as a melting pot for all walks of life, from fur and fishnet-clad streetwalkers to elegant English fops to soldiers and nuns, most of whom are clad in shades of black, white and gray.

At every performance, Luhrmann is among the crowd in the 1,600-seat theater, made more intimate by a pasarelle, or walkway around the orchestra pit that allows the singers to stand closer to the audience. Another unorthodox practice: Luhrmann’s decision to leave the scene changes exposed. Instead of the curtain drawing after each scene, the audience sees costumed stagehands elegantly move the café and storefronts across the stage, sprinkle snowflakes onto the singers, straighten their ties and powder their noses.

Opera demystified? Seems more like a legend in the making.
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