Last mission to repair the Hubble telescope Hubble space telescope discoveries have enriched our understanding of the cosmos. In this special report, you will see facts about the Hubble space telescope, discoveries it has made and what the last mission's goals are.
For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
ST. PETERSBURG - Saint Petersburg Opera has a good thing going at the Palladium Theater. To be sure, the company isn't taking any chances - Puccini's La Boheme, probably the most popular opera of all, opened Friday night - but it assembles interesting casts and has a good time, and the audience appears to be growing.
Technically, La Boheme is the debut of the newly constituted Saint Petersburg Opera, but two previous productions at the theater were also done by the company's artistic director and conductor, Mark Sforzini, and director-singer Jon Truitt.
Jonathan Hodel and Jacqueline Quirk were a properly ardent Rodolfo and Mimi. Quirk had the high notes for spectacular arias like Mi chiamano Mimi They Call Me Mimi, but at first her singing in the lower and middle registers was less compelling. She loosened up and was at her expressive best in the Act 3 scene in which the consumptive heroine tells Rodolfo he can keep a pink bonnet in memory of her.
Hodel's tenor was a bit underpowered, but he gave a conscientious performance, and his grief at Mimi's deathbed was powerful. He was beautifully supported by the other bohemians, whose matey ensembles were highlights.
Some of the strongest singing was by Wade Thomas' Schaunard. Todd Donovan's Colline was richly mournful in the philosopher's aria to his coat.
As Marcello, Truitt combined burly singing and a confident stage presence, making him a fine partner to Elizabeth Claxton's high-maintenance Musetta, a kewpie doll with a big voice.
Truitt's staging had to accommodate a large chorus, a children's chorus and a 13-piece "banda" in marching band uniforms. At times, the sprawling production overwhelmed the Palladium, with performers roaming the aisles of the auditorium as well as filling the stage. The scene change (with no intermission) from the garret to Cafe Momus was clunky.
Allen Lloyd's set featured flats of Parisian buildings topped with snow. There was a snow flurry propelled by a noisy blower in the chilly dawn of Act 3. Video screens flanking the stage provided English supertitles.
Sforzini conducted 40 musicians from the Florimezzo Orchestra in Puccini's lush score. They were positioned upstage behind the playing area, an awkward setup that required Sforzini to be constantly looking back over his shoulder at the singers. Still, the musical standard was high.
An enjoyable aspect of Friday's performance was the enthusiastic audience, which cheered long and loud after famous arias. There was even a marriage proposal during the intermission between Acts 3 and 4 when a guy led a young woman on to the stage, dropped to one knee, took out a ring and offered it to her. It looked like she said yes. Ah, the romantic power of Puccini.