It’s Music Monday! And since we’re performing La Bohème in November, I thought I’d kick off the week by telling the story of four artsy boys in Paris determined to live la vie Bohème, or the Bohemian life.
In Act I, we meet the boys: Rodolfo, Marcello, and Colline. They’re broke, they’re cold, and they’re hungry…but along comes their friend Schaunard with money from an odd job to lift their spirits. Instead of giving the money to their landlord, Benoit, the boys decide to go out to a local café to drink and celebrate. Not Rodolfo, however. He stays in to write, but gets distracted when Mimì, the pretty seamstress next door, comes in to get a light for her candle. Rodolfo is instantly smitten and the two sing passionately.
Act II takes us to Café Momus and the bustling Christmas crowd, where the boys are enjoying food and drink. We meet Musetta, Marcello’s high-maintenance ex-girlfriend and her wealthy (and elderly) gentleman friend. She makes a fuss flirting with Marcello, they decide to reconcile, and Musetta leaves the bill for her gentleman friend.
Act III finds the crew more than a little unhappy; Rodolfo and Mimì’s relationship is on the rocks as Marcello and Musetta’s love affair is also going cold. The four lovers ultimately break up. (Though Mimi and Rodolfo hang on until spring.)
Act IV brings hope and tragedy in one fell swoop. The boys miss their girls, but are reunited when Musetta bursts in to announce she’s found Mimì collapsed on the stairs. Though the gang springs into action to help Mimì, it’s too late – she opens her eyes long enough to tell Rodolfo she loves him, then dies.
Are you all choked up yet? You will be – this is the second most-popular opera after Madama Butterfly. Great music, great characters…what more could you ask for? (If you say ice cream at intermission, I'm right there with you.)
Ciao for now!