Liz Cass felt so compelled to produce an all-female version of La Bohème that it was only a matter of time before lofty ideas led to cross-dressing, et voila, La Femme Bohème was born. It is a dream turned into reality, one Cass says she has envisioned for the past five years.
This is the first ever production of La Bohème with an all-female cast, and one that promises to bring a whole new dynamic to an opera already filled with emotion and anguish, centering on themes of friendship, love, hardship, struggle, and creative expression. A woman’s perspective will help to tell the story in a new way, Cass says.
“La Bohème is a total human experience story,” Cass says. “I wanted to show how at the core of it all, we share so many things. We have much more in common than we don’t have in common.”
Cass says women are often misrepresented as divas in the opera world, whereas her cast is made up of “amazing, passionate, artistic women.” But there’s more to this production than empowering the ladies; it’s also a way to celebrate diversity and expose just a few of the many layers of complexity in a person’s life.
“Being an opera singer and now producer, I totally identify with the pain of struggling for your art and for love,” Cass says. “How life can be complicated and reality can hit you like a ton of bricks. This production, having characters that straddle the gender norms, takes that idea a step further.”
La Femme Bohème clearly wrestles with broad, complex themes, but there’s also beautiful simplicity in the idea of sharing the human experience-good and bad-with one another. Compassion is one powerful tool.