La Boheme

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Why You Should Watch La Boheme

There is little doubt that La Boheme was Puccini’s magnum opus. With librettists Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, who collaborated with Puccini on Tosca and Madama Butterfly as well, contributing to this fantastic piece, it quickly rose to become one of the most frequently performed operas in the world. The story, which is based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger, is centred around unrequited love and the uncertainty of life. Unlike other operas that opt for sweeping vocals, La Boheme sticks to memorable melodies that accurately reflect the lives of its characters. It captures the struggles of early 18th Century European artists who had lost both aristocratic and ecclesiastical (church) support.

This is a revival of Academy Award-winning director Franco Zeffirelli’s exquisite production. Zeffirelli was also known for his versions of The Taming of the Shrew and Jesus of Nazareth. This production of La Boheme features some of the most celebrated opera artists including Matthew Polenzani, Joseph Calleja, Ailyn Perez, and Hei-Kyung Hong. From the brash and spirited character of Rodolfo to the delicate and refined Mimi, the artists do a fine job bringing out an intricate range of emotions. The opera will be led by seasoned conductor Marco Armiliato in October, November, and December, and Emmanual Villaume will succeed him in April and May.

The Story

La Boheme is set in the Latin Quarter of Paris in 1830. The destitute poet Rodolfo and artist Marcello struggle to keep themselves warm in winter by feeding the dying flame with the last remaining pages of the poet’s most recent drama. They live together with their friends Colline, the philosopher, and Schunard, the musician. After driving out their landlord by getting him drunk, Marcello, Schunard, and Colline depart for the Cafe Momus, leaving Rodolfo behind to finish his article. A knock on the door announces an unexpected visitor, and Rodolfo is joined by a beautiful young woman named Mimi. She feels faint and is rejuvenated by a sip of wine offered by Rodolfo. After declaring that she has lost her key, Mimi and Rodolfo begin scouring the room. In the darkness, their hands meet, and suddenly, they find themselves in love.

After living together for a while, Rodolfo soon realises that their time together is limited. Mimi is suffering from an illness that is only worsened by the poor living conditions in Rodolfo’s house. With no choice left, they part ways. What follows is a truly heartbreaking series of events set to gorgeously expressive tunes.

Good For

Fans of Giacomo Puccini’s Operas | Lovers of Romantic Tragedies

Reviews

“This opera is, unsurprisingly, the most performed of the company’s history, and that experience made itself clear throughout the night.”
– Opera Wire