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La Bohème

Music Giacomo Puccini Text Giuseppe Giacosa & Luigi Illica
→ Oper in vier Bildern

31. January 2023
Tuesday
19.00 - 21.30
1 intermission
Buy tickets

Cast 18.09.2022

Conductor Bertrand de Billy
Inszenierung und Bühne Franco Zeffirelli
Costume Design Marcel Escoffier

Details

In Franco Zeffirelli's historical, visually stunning production of La bohème, four young artists share a life that is at times carefree and at other times beset by extreme hardship, which comes to a head in a love affair that ends tragically.


SYNOPSIS

1 Act

Two young artists – Rodolfo, a poet, and Marcello, a painter – plan to work over Christmas in their squalid garret. They have no money, it is cold, and the manuscript that Rodolfo feeds the fire with provides only a few moments of warmth. Colline, a philosopher, also comes home empty-handed – the pawnshop was closed, so he was unable to pawn any of his books. Only Schaunard, a musician, had more luck with a rich Englishman and brings home plenty of food, heating fuel and money.

The landlord Benoît demands the rent. The young artists draw him into a trap. When he tells them about his amorous escapades, they feign moral outrage and show him the door.

When the others leave to go and celebrate, Rodolfo remains alone to finish an article. There is a knock at the door. A young woman, Mimì, asks Rodolfo to light her candle, which has gone out. The two young people fall in love.

2 Act

The Latin Quarter is abuzz with celebrations. Rodolfo buys a Mimì a bonnet and introduces her to his friends. Marcello runs into his former lover Musetta, who enters on the arm of Alcindoro, a suitor as old as he is rich. In full view of all, she gives free rein to her seductive skills and once again wins Marcello’s heart.

3 Act

A gloomy February morning at the customs barrier at the border between a Parisian suburb and the inner city. Workers, waggoners, dairywomen are allowed to enter, passing the cabaret where Marcello and Musetta are lodging. Mimì is looking for and finds Marcello. She laments Rodolfo’s jealousy and their frequent quarrels. In conversation with Rodolfo, Marcello later learns the reasons for his disdainful behaviour: Mimì is deathly ill and has only a short time to live. Rodolfo believes that the cause of her illness is his poverty, so he now wants to separate from her. Mimì has overheard their entire conversation. The two lovers decide not to part until the spring.

4 Act

Several months later. Both couples have separated. Rodolfo and Marcello reflect wistfully on days gone by. Suddenly Musetta arrives with Mimì, who is clearly close to death. The friends pawn their last few possessions to fulfil the invalid’s last wish for a muff and to purchase medicine. Rodolfo and Mimì once again find solace in happy memories. Surrounded by her friends, Mimì dies.

FURTHER INFORMATION

The literary model for »La Bohème«, which premiered in Turin in 1896 under Arturo Toscanini, is the highly successful episodic novel by French author Henri Murger. In it, composer Giacomo Puccini rediscovered the atmosphere of his own blissfully nostalgic years as a student: »Here I found everything I was looking for and loved: origin, youth, passion, humour, tears shed in secret, and love that brings joy and sorrow.« Together with his librettists, he condensed the loose sequence of pictures of the original plot to a two-hour play and created tangible character portraits of his young Parisian urban heroes, whom he then had act in social settings that were precisely outlined by music, thus lending sound to all the facets of the material. The story of the terminally ill Mimì, who is allowed to experience the happiness a great love brings in the midst of poverty and illness, soon became a staple on international repertoires. The same is true for Vienna: the opera has been performed roughly a thousand times at the State Opera and is thus one of the most successful works ever. With Armenian soprano Ruzan Mantashyan and Brazilian tenor Atalla Ayan, a new generation of singers has now entered the stage – and is a fresh take on Franco Zeffirelli's classic, image-packed production.