Following is a synopsis of La bohème.
La Boheme is Puccini's 4th opera. Elizabeth Harmetz appeared as Mimi
in production staged in Italy.
La Boheme was first performed at the Teatro Regio in
Turin Italy on February 1st, 1896.
Composer: Giacomo Puccini
Librettist: Luigi Illica
and Giuseppe Giacosa
Source: Scènes de la vie de Bohème by Henri Murger
Set in Paris 1830.
Winter in a garret.
Rodolfo is ruminating while Marcello is working on his painting of the Red
Sea. When Marcello complains of the cold, Rodolfo offers to burn his manuscript
some heat. As they tear it and throw it into the stove, Colline arrives disgruntled
at not being able to pawn a bundle of books. Schaunard
food, fuel and funds he acquired from an eccentric englishman. They are too eager
to eat the food
ludicrous details of his three-days’ musical engagement. Over wine, they
to go to café Momus to celebrate. Their landlord, Benoît, knocks
the landlord with wine, they urge him to tell of his flirtations,
then in comic moral indignation throw him out when he reveals that
he is married.
to finish his article as his friends depart and promises
in the cafe shortly.
to write, another knock on the door reveals Mimi
whose candle has blown out. No sooner than Rodolfo lets her in she faints. After
reviving her with wine, she discovers that she must have lost the key to
her room. As the two search for it their candles get blown out. Rodolfo
finds the key, slips it into his pocket, and pretends to continue searching.
Their hands meet in the dark and Rodolpho tells her of his dreams. ("Che
gelida manina — What a cold little hand")Mimi responds
in kind and relates her lonely garret, her job embroidering and how
for spring. ("Sì,
mi chiamano Mimì — Yes, they call me Mimì.")
Rodolfo's friends urge him to come downstairs but he wishes to remain
at home with Mimì
decides to accompany him. As Mimì and Rodolfo embrace and
slowly leave for the café they celebrate their
joy in finding each other ("O
soave fanciulla — Oh gentle maiden.")
The Latin Quarter.
In the square before café Momu street vendors hawk their wares. Rodolpho
buys Mimi a bonnet before they join Rodolfo’s friends at a table outside
café. As they order food and wine, Parpignol
the toy vendor crosses the square besieged by eager children. Musetta,
Marcello’s estranged lover, makes a noisy entrance and accompanied
Musetta, trying to regain Marcello’s attention, sings a waltz about
her popularity (“Quando me’n vo’”). Feigning that a
shoe hurts she sends Alcindoro to the cobbler’s for a new pair. She
and Marcello embrace and reconcile. When
bill arrives Musetta asks the waiter to charge it to Alcindoro. Soldiers parade
by and the friends fall in behind. Alcindoro returns with the shoe as the parade
At the toll gate.
Marcello lives at a tavern near the tollgate.
Mimi wanders outside looking for his residence. When Marcello emerges
she refuses to enter
the tavern and recounts
her distress over Rodolfo's jealousy and abandonment ("O
buon Marcello, aiuto! - Oh, good Marcello, help me!"). Rodolfo, who was
sleeping at the inn, comes out searching for Marcello and Mimi hides closely.
Rodolpho reveals to the painter that he must give up Mimi because of her coquettishness,
but then reveals the real reason: Rodolfo fears Mimi's coughing illness is
getting worse in their poverty and she should be comforted by a wealthier suitor.
A fit of coughing
announces Mimi’s presence and the two sorrowfully agree to part (“Donde
lieta uscì”). Marcello re-enters the tavern upon hearing
Musetta's flirtatious laughter.
While Mimi and Rodolfo gently recount their past happiness Musetta and Marcello
enter fiercely quarrelling. In a quartet the painter and Musetta breakup
while Mimi and Rodolfo agree to stay together until spring ("Addio dolce
svegliare alla mattina! - Goodbye, sweet awakening in the morning!").
Back in the garret.
Marcello and Rodolfo are bemoaning the loss of their respective
beloved's. ("O Mimì, tu più non torni" --
O Mimì, will you not return?) Schaunard and Colline arrive
and the four attempt to alleviate their poverty and sorrows with
parodying a plentiful banquet. While engaged in this mock celebration
Musetta appears announcing that
dying and she wants to return to the garret where she has been so
happy. Rodolfo brings Mimi in and as he warms her hands
Musetta gives her earrings to Marcello to sell and get money for
a tonic. Colline takes Schaunard with him to to pawn his
zimarra - Old coat"). Musetta departs to retrieve a muff for
Mimi's cold hands. The two lovers, left alone, recall their past
happiness. ("Sono andati? - Have they gone?") The others
anxiously return with the medicine and muff. Rodolpho, believing
that Mimi is resting, leaves her bed, and while Musetta prays aloud,
Mimi dies. The others try to keep it from Rodolfo but he soon discovers
it and distraught falls upon his lovers lifeless body and cry's out
DRAMATIS PERSONAE / CHARACTERS:
Mimì, seamstress: Soprano
Musetta, singer: Soprano
Rodolfo, poet: Tenor
Marcello, painter: Baritone
Schaunard, musician: Baritone
Colline, philosopher: Bass
Benoît, their landlord: Bass
Alcindoro, state counselor: Bass
Parpignol, a street vendor: Tenor
A customs Sergeant: Bass
Chorus of students, working girls, townsfolk, shopkeepers, street-vendors,
soldiers, waiters, children
The most famous musical pieces are:
"Che gelida manina" "Your tiny hand
is frozen" (Rodolfo)
" Mi chiamano Mimì" - "They call me Mimì" (Mimì)
" O soave fanciulla" - "O gentle maiden" (Rodolfo & Mimì)
" Quando me'n vo soletta per la via" - "Musetta's
" Donde lieta uscì al tuo grido d'amore" - "Mimì's
" O Mimì, tu più non torni" - "O Mimì, will
you not return?" (Rodolfo & Marcello)
" Vecchia zimarra" - "Old coat" (Colline)
" Sono andati? Fingevo di dormire" - "Have they gone? I was pretending
to sleep" (Mimì)
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