Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2007-09-06

Samford University's Cumberland School of Law will host a free, live broadcast of Washington National Opera's edgy new production of Puccini's La Boheme Sunday, Sept. 23, at 1 p.m. in Wright Center Concert Hall. The public is invited.

The production will originate from the Opera House stage at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

There are no tickets for the simulcast. Seating in Samford's 2,600-seat Wright Center will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors will open at 12 noon.

Cumberland is one of 32 schools across the country, and one of two in Alabama, presenting the simulcast, which is anticipated to be the largest ever simultaneous viewing of an opera in the world. More than 45,000 viewers are expected at the sites, which include University of Alabama at Huntsville and the Washington Monument on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The Birmingham showing is made possible through the generosity of two friends of Cumberland, Washington, D.C., attorney Ellis J. Parker and his wife, Nancy.

"One of the goals of education is to broaden experience," said Cumberland vice dean James N. Lewis, Jr. "Whatever one's profession, knowledge of the arts expands perceptions and understandings of the human condition. Many young professionals are asked to serve on boards and committees, but may have limited exposure to content."

"Mr. and Mrs. Parker have generously made it possible for law students and others to learn about the arts and their integration into life," said Lewis.

The innovative new production of La Boheme from Polish director Mariusz Trelinski is a wonderful way to draw younger audiences to opera, said Placido Domingo, general director of Washington National Opera.

The original opera was based on an 1849 play dealing with the everyday life of bohemians in the Latin Quarter of Paris, where they lived only for their work, thinking only of the immediate time and place. The rock opera Rent is the modern version of the classic tale of a search for community.

Trelinski's La Boheme is a modern take on the timeless opera. Set in the present day, Rodolfo is a photographer and part of a contemporary group of artists searching for their identity and longing for a deeper and more profound connection with society. The characters struggle with their careers and to truly connect with each other in a world that is increasingly connected technologically.

Other schools presenting the September 23 simulcast include Duke University, North Carolina School of the Arts, Princeton University, U.S. Military Academy at West Point, University of Massachusetts and Wellesley College.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.