Feel like a cup of coffee and some stimulating conversation? Get yourself over to Café Momus, the Act II setting for La Bohème. The spot where Marcello and Musetta reignite their love is one of the most well-known settings in all opera. But did you know there was a real Café Momus?
It’s true! You couldn’t walk two feet without running into a café in Paris in the 19th century – the city was filled with artists, writers, singers and all those Bohemian types. Cafés were a place where you could share and explore ideas and also helped form the Bohemian identity. And one of those cafés was the Café Momus, located on the Right Bank of the River Seine in Paris near the church of Saint-Germaine-l'Auxerrois.
The café was frequented by such well-known authors as Voltaire and Victor Hugo and was named after the ancient Greek god of mockery, satire, censure, writers, and poets. Café Momus became known as the café of artists, which gave it a certain cache.
With those artists, of course, came some…interesting personalities. There’s a story of one Bohemian patron who kept trying to order a cup of coffee, despite the fact that he had no more credit at the café. The patron eventually went to the counter and complained, "I have ordered a cup of coffee half-a-dozen times; either serve it at once or lend me five sous, and I'll go and get it elsewhere."
Ah, those wacky Bohemians.
Ciao for now!