Have you ever watched a movie and one of the characters made a reference you didn’t quite get, as though you had missed a few minutes? That’s exactly what happens in Bohème. When Rodolfo complains to Marcello about Mimì in Act III, he mentions a “moscardino di Viscontino" (“young fop of a Viscount.”) So who is this Viscount?
Well, there’s an entire missing act. Apparently, when the widow of one of the librettists for La Bohème died, a full libretto for the opera was discovered. The libretto describes an act that never made it into the final opera…except for that brief mention in Act III.
So in the opera as it’s performed, Musetta leaves her wealthy lover with the check at Café Momus. In the missing act, we find out that her lover has become jealous and decides to pay Musetta back by not paying her rent. The curtain comes up on Musetta’s place, and all her furniture is outside to be auctioned off the next morning. She had originally planned a party, and in true Parisian style, the Bohemians decide to just move the party outside. Musetta gives Mimì a gown to wear and introduces her to the Viscount mentioned in Act III. Mimì and the Viscount dance and flirt, and naturally Rodolfo becomes jealous. The party continues until dawn, when furniture dealers come to take the pieces to auction.
And interestingly, a moscardino is also a small octopus-like creature with a shell. And a small rodent. Here at the Backstage blog, we’re all about education.
Ciao for now!