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La vie boheme

Nickel City Opera is going bohemian for its annual summer production, which this year is Giacomo Puccini's "La Boheme." This poignant drama about a group of struggling young artists in 19th century Paris is one of the most popular operas of all time. (It also inspired the Broadway show "Rent," which includes bits and pieces of Puccini's music.)

Valerian Ruminski, executive director of Nickel City Opera, has an imaginative staging planned. He has secured an eminent director, Dieter Kaegi, whom he met while singing in "Othello" with the Dublin Opera. And he has assembled an international cast led by Adam Klein, who was featured in last year's waterfront production of Puccini's smoldering "Il Tabarro." Other singers include Maria Teresa Magisano, Aaron St. Clair Nicholson, James Wright Jr., Jena Abati, Mikhail Svetlov, Jim Judd and Michael Rabice.

Ruminski is singing the part of Colline, the philosopher among the bohemians.

The costumes are a particularly creative touch: Some of them originally appeared in the Martin Scorsese 19th century drama "Gangs of New York." Accompanying "La Boheme" will be an orchestra conducted by Michael Ching, and rumor has it that the Mighty Wurlitzer also makes a cameo appearance.

The opera takes place at 8 tonight and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Riviera Theatre (67 Webster St., North Tonawanda). Admission is $34-$59. For info or tickets, call 692-2413.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman