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Opera Gold – La Bohème (2011)

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Programme notes

Music Giacomo Puccini (Italy, 1858–1929)
Luigi Illica (1857-1919) and Giuseppe Giacosa (1847-1906)
Based on
Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger (1822 - 1861)
Premiere At the Teatro Regio, Turin, on the 1st of February 1896

Setting Around 1830 in Quartier Latin, Paris.

Synopsis - Act I

Rodolfo and Marcello are sitting in the latter's attic-studioin the Quartier Latin, in Paris. Marcello is absorbed in his painting. They day is cold. They have no money to buy coal. Marcello takes a chair to burn it, when Rodolfo remembers that he has a manuscript that has been rejected by the piblishers and lights a fire with that instead. Colline enters, looking abject and miserable. He had gone out to pawn his books, but nobody wanted them. Theur friend, Schaunard, however, had better luck. He comes bringing fuel and provisions. They all prepare their meal, when the landlord enters and demands the payment of his rent. The friends offer him a glass of wine and turn him out amidst joking and laughter. After their gay repast they separate and Rodolfo remains alone writing.

A knock is heard at the door and Mimì, a seamstress, who lives on the same floow, appeards and asks Rodolfo to give her a match to light her candle. As she is about to go out, she falls in a faint. Rodolfo gives her wine and restores her consciousness. She tells him that she suffers from consumption. Rodolfo is struck by her beauty and her delicate hands. She notices that she has lost her key and whilst they search for it their candles are extinguished. As they grope on the floor in the dark, Rodolfo finds the key and puts it in his pocket. Their hands meet and Rodolfo tries to warm her hands and tells her all about his life. Mimì confides her struggles to him and their conversation soon turns upon their love for each other.

Synopsis - Act II

Rodolfo's friends have repaired to their favorite café. It is Christmas Eve and everyone is in festive spirits. All the shops are bright and displaying their goods. Hawkers offer their goods for sale in the streets. Rodolfo and Mimì are seen entering a milliner's where Rodolfo is to buy her a new hat. Colline, Schaunard and Marcello take their seats in front of the café, where a table has been prepared for them. Rodolfo introduces Mimì to his friends. Musetta, Marcello's flame, with whom he has quarrelled, now enters with Alcindoro. Marcello is deeply moved when he sees her. Musetta notices this and sends Alcindoro on an errand. Whist he is away, she makes peace with Marcello. The friends find that they have not sufficient money to pay for their supper, so they carry off Musetta and leave their bills to be paid by Alcindoro.

Synopsis - Act III

Month have elapsed, bringing joy and misery to Rodolfo and Mimì. Rodolfo loves Mimì passionately, but is consumed with jealousy. On a wintry day, Marcello is seen leaving a tavern near the Gates of Paris. He meets Mimì; she looks pale and haggard. She asks Marcello to help her and tells of all the miseries of their lives; how he loves her and believes her to be dying of consumption. Mimì's cough betrays her and although she says good-bye to Rodolfo they find they cannot part and determine to await the spring. Meanwhile Musetta and Marcello have a violent quarrel.

Synopsis - Act IV

Marcello and Rodolfo are now living together in their attic-studio. Musetta and Mimì have left them. They are seemingly working, but their thought wander towards the women they love. Schaunard and Colline enter with rolls sand herring for their meal. They have a wild time and are dancing and singing when Musetta enters and tells them that Mimì is outside so weak and ill that she cannot go further. They make up a bed on the couch for her and bring her in. Mimì reconciles Marcello and Musetta. Musetta tells her old friends that Mimì is dying and gives them earrings to sell, asking them to get a doctor for Mimì. They all go out leaving Rodolfo alone with Mimì. He holds her in her arms and recalls their love. Mimì is seized with a fit of coughing and falls back in a faint. Musetta returns with medicine. Mimì regains consciousness and turning to Rodolfo tells him of her love. Musetta falls upon her knees in prayer and Mimì passes away in Rodolfo's arms.

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