Arts & Events

New: The ‘Other’ La Bohème by Leoncavallo

Reviewed by James Roy MacBean
Wednesday March 23, 2016 - 04:01:00 PM

West Edge Opera continued its Doppelgänger season by presenting the ’other’ La Bohème, not Puccini’s but rather Ruggero Leoncavallo’s opera of the same title. Based on the same play, Scenes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger, as was Puccini’s opera, Leoncavallo’s La Bohème was presented by West Edge Opera at two locations -- on Sunday, March 20 at Mills College and on Tuesday, March 22 at Berkeley’s Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse. I attended the latter performance, and never having heard Leoncavallo’s version of La Bohème before, I was curious to see how different his treatment of this story, musically and dramatically, was from Puccini’s much better known version. There are differences, to be sure; but the basic story remains the same. A group of young bohemian artists, musicians, writers, and intellectuals live an impoverished existence in tiny, drafty apartments in Paris’s Quartier Latin. Rodolfo (or Rodolphe in French) falls in love with Mimi, and Marcello (or Marcel) falls in love with Mimi’s friend Musetta (or Musette). Both couples break up, then reunite at the end, only to see the tubercular Mimi die in Rodolfo’s arms. -more-

Here Come the Videofreex

Gar Smith
Friday March 18, 2016 - 12:14:00 PM

Opens March 18 at the Roxie Theatre in SF

The odds against this film ever existing were pretty long. It started with a chance conversation when the directors Jon Nealon and Jenny Raskin shared a beer with a guy named Bart Friedman. Friedman's tales of a radical group of underground newshounds called the "Videofreex" led to a hunt for more than a hundred ancient videotapes stuffed away in various basements and attics across the land.

Many of the old tapes were in such poor shape they had to be slowly "baked" over low heat for hours to assure they wouldn't self-destruct when played on the old reel-to-reel tape decks.

The doc's initial footage is not too promising: It's nothing more than two of the founding Videofreex sharing a doobie in front of the camera and having a sublime giggle-fest. But this is turns out to be a historic moment because what the two bearded kids are using to record their marijuana-marinated merriment is a revolutionary tool—a Sony Portapak video camera, the first camera that made it possible to record live video outside a TV studio.