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Opera: Puccini's La Bohème

Puccini’s La bohème is one of the most famous operas ever written, following the  unforgettable story of two young, bohemian lovers in Paris. With a great love story comes a beautiful score, including arias like Musetta’s Waltz and ‘Yes, they call me Mimì’ (Si, mi chiamano Mimì).

When young poet Rodolfo meets seamstress Mimì, it’s love at first  sight. But faced by the cruel realities of poverty and ill health, will  the flame that burns between them flicker and die? Or will the timeless  strength of their youthful passion withstand every trial and tribulation  that life can throw at them?

A classic tale of tragic romance, La bohème is a great opera for beginners and regulars alike. Filmed at the 2007 Festival Puccini Torre del Lago.

The Plot.

First Tableau: Paris: a garret in the Latin Quarter  As they vainly try to keep warm, the poet Rodolfo  and the painter Marcello are joined by the philosopher Colline in front of the stove. Another  friend, the musician Schaunard, has had good  luck and arrives with food and firewood, but suggests saving the food and eating out instead,  since he has money and it is Christmas Eve. The  landlord Benoit demands the rent. They pay but  ply him with drink and steal it back again, and  when he admits to being unfaithful to his wife  they pretend moral indignation and throw him  out. They set off for the Cafe Momus, except for  Rodolfo, who has an article to finish and will join  them shortly. Mimi knocks at the door, in search  of a light for her candle. She faints, and Rodolfo is  struck by her beauty and pallor. He relights her  candle, but now she has lost her key. As both  candles go out they search for the key by the  moonlight. Rodolfo finds it and quietly pockets it.  He offers to warm Mimi's cold hand. He tells her  that he is a poet and she tells him of her life as a  seamstress. As they prepare to join his friends  they admit their strong mutual attraction.

Second Tableau: the Cafe Momus  Christmas revellers and hawkers mill around the  cafe. Rodolfo buys Mimi a bonnet and they join  the other bohemians at an outside table.  A shrill laugh announces the arrival of Musetta,  Marcello's former lover, with an elderly admirer,  Alcindoro. Marcello tries to ignore her, but she is  determined to attract his attention, and her exuberant behaviour soon does the trick. She gets rid  of the embarrassed Alcindoro by sending him to  have her shoe fixed, and falls into Marcellols arms.  She tells the waiter to add the Bohemian's bill to  Alcindorols and leaves with them.

Third Tableau: one of the city gates, with a  customs posts and an inn nearby, the following  February  Mimi arrives at the inn where Marcello and  Musetta are living. Learning from Marcello that  Rodolfo is there, she refuses to come inside out of  the snow, explaining that Rodolfo's jealousy is  spoiling their relationship. She agrees with him  that it would be better for them to part. She hides  as Rodolfo comes outside, and listens as he con-  fesses that she is dying and he cannot bear to  watch helplessly. She is unable to suppress a cry  and Rodolfo runs to her as Marcello, hearing  Musetta's laugh, runs inside to see who she's flirting with. Mimi bids Rodolfo farewell, but then  they decide to stay together for a while and part  in the spring. Meanwhile Marcello and Musetta  are fighting and she leaves after an exchange of  insults.

Fourth Tableau: the garret, some months later  Mimi and Rodolfo have separated. Rodolfo is  attempting to write and Marcello to paint, but  they are distracted by thoughts of their absent  lovers. Schaunard and Colline arrive with meagre  provisions and all sit down cheerfully to their  spartan feast, enlivening the occasion with horseplay. Musetta appears, explaining that Mimi is  with her, but too ill to climb the stairs. She had  found her wandering in the streets, wanting to  return and die with Rodolfo. Mimi is carried in  and made comfortable. She and Rodolfo are  absorbed in one another, but the others are concerned by the lack of medicines and comforts.  Musetta gives her earnings to pay for medicines  and goes with Marcello to buy a muff for Mimi, to  warm her hands. Colline prepares to pawn a  much-loved old coat. Left alone, Mimi and  Rodolfo relive their meeting and past happiness.  The others return with medicines and a muff  Mimi is delighted with the muff, but dies quietly  shortly afterwards.

The programme starts 30 minutes after doors open and on Saturdays the main feature about 60 minutes after doors open.

La Bohème, meaning "The Bohemia," is an operatic portrait of bohemian life and love in Paris during the 19th century. Giacomo Puccini, one of the most successful composers of Italian opera, composed La Bohème in 1896.

Doors open:

2pm Sunday 26th May 2024


Stewart Robertson


Filmed live Opera
2h 35m (inc. interval)
Placido Domingo, Jonas Kaufmann, Dmitri Hvorostovsky
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