LA BOHÈME

Premiered:

February 1, 1896 in Turin, Italy (Teatro Reggio)

Composer:

Giacomo Puccini (December 22, 1858 – November 29, 1924)

Librettist:

Luigi Illica (May 9, 1857 – December 16, 1919) and Giuseppe                Giacosa (October 21, 1847 – September 1, 1906), based on Scènes de la vie de bohème (1851) by Henri Murger (March 27, 1822 – January 28, 1861).

Language:

Sung in Italian with English supertitles

Length:

Running Time is approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes (two intermissions)

Synopsis:

ACT I

On Christmas Eve four bohemians – a poet, a painter, a philosopher, and a musician – stay warm by burning the pages of Rodolfo’s poems. Schanuard, the musician, has received payment for his last commission, prompting the group to celebrate. When the landlord, Benoit, demands rent payment, the group gets him drunk instead.

In a celebratory state, the group heads out to the cafe. Rodolfo stays behind. Once alone, Rodolfo is visited by Mimi, a young woman who has come in search of candlelight as hers has gone out, leaving her in the dark. Rodolfo is instantly taken with Mimi and the two leave together for the cafe.

MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS:
Che gelida manina (Rodolfo)
Mi chiamano Mimi (Mimi)
O soave fanciulla (Rodolfo/Mimi)

ACT II

In the Latin Quarter, Mimi and Rodolfo catch up with the group at Cafe Momus. Marcello, the painter, spots Musetta, his one-time lover. She has taken up with a wealthy admirer, Alcindoro, but has grown bored of the relationship. She sings a risque tune in order to win back Marcello. After ordering Alcindoro away, she falls into Marcello’s arms. When the bill arrives, Musetta confidently declares that Alcindoro will pay the bill before the group hurriedly flees the scene.

MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS:
Aranci Datteri (Marcello/Schaunard/Rodolfo/Mimi)
Quando m’en vo (Musetta)

ACT III

Some time has now passed. Mimi finds Marcello outside a tavern where she reveals the jealous and unkind behavior Rodolfo has been exhibiting for months. She believes it best for them to part. When Rodolfo emerges from the tavern, Mimi hides. He tells Marcello that Mimi’s illness can only grow worse with the impoverished conditions in which they live. Overcome with emotion, Mimi reveals herself to say goodbye to Rodolfo. Marcello hears Musetta’s laughter from the tavern and disappears inside. Mimi and Rodolfo recount the good times. Marcello returns with Musetta where they fight over Musetta’s flirtations with a customer. After hurling insults at one another, they part. Mimi and Rodolfo decide to stay together until springtime.

MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS:
Marcello. Finalmente! (Rodolfo/Marcello)
Donde lieta uscì (Mimi)

ACT IV

Spring has come and gone. Rodolfo and Marcello, now separated from their girlfriends, discuss their loneliness. To lighten spirits, Shanuard and the philosopher Colline provide a small meal, before the four friends stage a dance that morphs into a light-hearted duel. Musetta interrupts the revelry when she bursts through the door with the news that Mimi is outside, too weak to climb the stairs. As Rodolfo rushes away, Musetta reveals how Mimi wanted to be brought to Rodolfo’s side to die. To afford medicine for Mimi, Musetta has Marcello sell her earrings while Colline pawns his heavy overcoat. Alone in the apartment, Rodolfo and Mimi recount their happy memories, before Mimi succumbs to a coughing fit. After the others return, Mimi slowly drifts off. Musetta prays for Mimi but it is too late. The friends realize that Mimi is dead as Rodolfo weeps by her side.

MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS:
In un coupé? (Marcello/Rodolfo)
O Mimì, tu più non torni (Rodolfo/Marcello/Schaunard/Colline)
Vecchia zimarra, senti (Colline)
Sono andati? Fingevo di dormire (Mimì/Rodolfo)


Contributing writers: Amrita Vijayaraghavan and Andrew Stephens