It’s safe to say that the majority of people are unaware that they are fans of opera.   Yet it’s there in popular culture in everything from car and shampoo commercials to cartoons and movie soundtracks.  An accessible and entertaining way to hear one of the primary sources of such classical earworms is to take in the latest production of the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra.

Lead by Music Director and Conductor Denis Mastromonaco, the MSO has mounted a wonderful and engaging production of Giacomo Pucinni’s tragic love story, La Bohème, at the Living Arts Centre.  The orchestra does a wonderful job filling making the most of the excellent acoustics in Hammerson Hall – who needs Dolby Digital 5.1 or AVX?

Set in Paris, La Bohème tells the tale of a group of struggling friends, a tale of intense love and untimely loss.  The principal characters, Rodolfo and Mimi, are played strongly and admirably by Romulo Delgado and Shantelle Przybylo.  The other performers, notably, Musetta, played by Sara Papini and, Marcello, played by Christopher Dunham, rounded out the full rich sound of the main chorus, which included members of the Mississauga Children’s Choir.

Simple and evocative staging with effective lighting and the judicious use of projectors allowed the cast to act without being overly encumbered with props.  There were a few locations on stage that might have benefitted from a roving spotlight, but overall the movements on stage were easily viewed.

If the prospect of watching a two hour performance of classical opera seems daunting, fear not!  The programme provided includes a brief outline of the plot for each act and supertitles provide the translation of the lyrics in real time so that one can follow along with the plot without needing to know Italian.  It’s the sound of the instruments working in concert and the swell of the powerful vocal performances that most profoundly conveys the emotion of the opera, sounds that need no translation.

With Valentine’s Day coming up, the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra provides a great date option instead of the latest superhero blockbuster.

For this or other future performances, tickets may be obtained by calling (905) 306-6000 or by visiting mississaugasymphony.ca