Jared Bowen on ME | Sept. 29, 2022

GBH Executive Arts Editor Jared Bowen shares his rundown of the latest arts and culture events in and around Boston.

La Bohème

Now playing at the Emerson Colonial Theatre through Oct. 2

This Boston Lyric Opera retelling of Puccini’s classic opera is noteworthy for the fact that it’s told in reverse. In this version of La Bohème, the story starts with Mimi dying of tuberculosis and what Bowen calls “the coming apart that that represents” before the audience looks back at Mimi’s and Rodolfo's romance.

While the inversion of the opera’s structure may appear to make for a happier ending, Bowen says that, “I find it brings a different kind of resonance in that you're more acutely aware of how tragic this story is, because at the end you're seeing this love and you're already intimately reminded of how it's going to end.” The pared-down plotline taps into the simplicity of the characters’ lives: “They only really had each other and they're making art," Bowen said.

MIT Museum
Opening Oct. 2

The MIT Museum, which has been closed since 2020, reopens this weekend at a new location in Cambridge's Kendall Square, which Bowen describes as being an apt space “in the heart of innovation.” The musem's three-story building also allows for a much larger exhibition space than its previous home in Central Square.

The goal of the museum is “to turn MIT inside out so we get exposure to things we’ve only ever really read about.” Featuring prototypes of groundbreaking scientific technology, from the starshade pedal NASA used for space photography to the device used to prove Einstein’s theory of relativity, the museum allows visitors to remember that “that’s right, humanity actually worked on these things, and it’s sitting there right in front of you,” said Bowen.

Other exhibits are more interactive, allowing visitors to converse with robots or collaborate to create AI poetry. Bowen says that this element, while having a certain “creepiness factor,” also lets visitors ask themselves questions about the mythos of MIT: “What are we doing right now? What is the impact?" And, he added, "For that reason, they also bring in artists who have exhibitions that interrogate exactly what’s happening.”

This photo is of the entrance to the new MIT Museum, which emphasizes advances in technology.  The floors are poured concrete. There is a large grey screen made out of triangles, which  fold and bend as if it were origami. Across the screen in white all capital letters it says "ESSENTIAL MIT." Beyond the screen you can see white museum display cases in the background
The entrance to the MIT Museum, opening this weekend in Cambridge's Kendall Square.
Anna Olivella MIT Museum

William Shattuck: Reveries
Now on view at the New Bedford Whaling Museum through Dec. 30

William Shattuck is a local artist who paints the natural scenes of the Cape and Southeastern Massachusetts. Though his work is often described as both “enchanting” and “ominous,” Bowen points out that Shattuck has said “he wants his paintings to be the power of suggestion — let the visitor finish the work.”

In addition to the visual elements, Bowen says that Shattuck “wants you to feel and have every sensory experience when you’re in these works.” Depictions of New England’s landscapes in Shattuck’s work include elements like fog, bodies of water, trees, and twilight, which offer an opportunity for viewers to form their own emotional connections to the paintings and the natural world that inspires them.

"Moment" by William Shattuck, depicting a marsh at sunset
"Moment" by William Shattuck.
William Shattuck New Bedford Whaling Museum