234th Season

Main Stage

21 January
19:00
2010 | Thursday
La Boheme (opera in four acts)
Opera in 4 acts
Artists Credits
Opera company
Tim Goodchild, Costume Designer
Nigel Levings, Lighting Designer
Gianandrea Noseda, Musical Director
Ilona Yansons, Musical Preparation
Marina Mishuk, Musical Preparation
Andrei Petrenko, Principal Chorus Master
Dmitry Ralko, Principal Chorus Master
Tim Goodchild, Production design
Ian Judge, Stage Director
Performed in Italian (with synchronised Russian supertitles)
World premiere: Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg
Premiere of this production: 15 Mar 2001

The performance has 1 intermission
Running time: 2 hours 25 minutes

Libretto: Guiseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, after Henri Murger’s Scenes de la vie de Boheme

Synopsis

The opera is set in Paris. The 1930s.

ACT I

An attic in the Latin Quarter; Christmas Eve
Rodolfo and Marcello complain of the bitter cold. They need to light their stove: Marcello suggests using a chair, but Rodolfo offers the manuscript of the play he is writing and they banter ironically as they enjoy the fleeting warmth. Colline enters and the remaining acts of the play are burnt. Colline brings wood, cigars and wine, followed by Schaunard, who explains that an Englishman engaged him to play his violin incessantly, to hasten the death of a neighbourґs noisy parrot: after three days he had the bird poisoned.
The friends decision to eat in the Latin Quarter are interrupted by Benoit, their landlord who has come for the rent. They ply him with wine until he boasts of his amorous conquests: he prefers plump women to skinny ones like his wife. The Bohemians pretend outrage at Benoitґs infidelity and push him out.
They prepare to leave for the Cafи Momus, but Rodolfo says he will stay behind to finish writing an article. There is a noise outside the door. It is a girl who asks for a light for her candle, she feels faint after climbing the stairs. As she is leaving, her candle flickers out again and she realizes she has lost her key. Rodolfoґs candle goes out too as he helps her. He takes her cold hand and tells her of his life as a poet. She says her name is Mimi and describes her simple life as a flower embroiderer.
The voices of Rodolfoґs friends are heard, telling him to hurry. He answers and turns to find Mimi bathed in moonlight. They declare their love for each other. Mimi asks if she may join the four friends in the Cafи Momus. Rodolfo at first wants to stay, but eventually they leave, singing of love.


ACT II

The Cafи "Momus" in the Latin Quarter
It is a bustling Christmas scene; hawkers and traders cry their wares; Rodolfo and Mimi wander through the crowd. They sit down and order dinner. Rodolfo introducing Mimi to his friends. Parpignol, a toyseller, passes, followed by a crowd of children. When Mimi shows her new friends the bonnet Rodolfo has bought her, it angers Marcello: he thinks of his faithless Musetta. As they propose a toast Musetta appears, accompanied by Alcindoro, an admirer whom she is tormenting. Musetta, increasingly agitated at being ignored by Marcello, determines to win him back. She launches into a song in which Marcello eventually joins. She complains of a painful foot and dispatches Alcindoro to buy new shoes. The bill for supper appears and no-one has any money. Musetta saves the situation by placing the bill on Alcindoroґs plate. The friends leave as a band marches through the square: Alcindoro returns, finds the bill, and sinks dumbfounded into a chair.


ACT III

Outside the "Enferґs Barriere"
Sweepers shout to be let through the gate. From inside the tavern comes the voice of Musetta. Mimi enters, ill and racked with coughing. She asks for Marcello. He tells her that he and Musetta have been living there and that Rodolfo is now with them. Mimi explains that Rodolfoґs jealousy is destroying their relationships and that last night he left her. Marcello advises Mimi to go, but instead she hides nearby.
Rodolfo comes out of the tavern and says he must break with Mimi: her flirting has driven him mad. Eventually, however, he reveals the real reason: she is so ill that his miserable poverty offers her nothing but the prospect of death.
Mimi breaks down, weeping and coughing. As Rodolfo hurries to her, Musettaґs laughter is heard and Marcello goes to see what she is up to. Mimi says farewell to Rodolfo: all she asks is that he sends her possessions, but if he wishes, he may keep the pink bonnet. Marcello and Musetta, quarrelling, separate acrimoniously. Rodolfo and Mimi together, resolving to postpone their separation until the spring.


ACT IV

The attic; some months later
Marcello and Rodolfo, trying to work, are discussing their lives. Rodolfo has seen Musetta in a fine carriage; Marcello has seen Mimi dressed like a queen. Rodolfo takes out Mimiґs bonnet and Marcello pulls some of Musettaґs ribbons from his pocket; they both indulge in a nostalgic recollection of times past.
Schaunard and Colline arrive with bread and a herring and the tour clown around in mock ceremony Suddenly Musetta enters. She has brought Mimi, who is desperately ill. Rodolfo carries Mimi in and she is helped to bed. Musetta explains that she met Mimi in the street and that Mimi, sensing she was dying, begged to be taken to Rodolfo. Mimi rallies and greets the friends. Musetta instructs Marcello to sell her earrings to pay for medicine and a doctor. Colline leaves to pawn his beloved old coat. Mimi expresses her love for Rodolfo. They are reconciled and reminisce about their first meeting.
Mimi is overwhelmed by a coughing fit. The others return with a muff and medicine. But it is too late: Mimi dies unnoticed while they are preparing her medicine.


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