Like so many operas, Bohème had a rough opening night. The critics hated it and said the music was too simplistic and there wasn’t enough action. Here are a few choice words…
“Even the Finale of the opera, so intensely dramatic in situation, seems to me deficient in musical form and color…La Bohème, even as it leaves little impression on the minds of the audience, will leave no great trace upon the history of our lyric theater…”
We wonder what could have started Puccini toward the degradation of this Bohème. The question is a bitter one, and we do not ask it without a pang, we who applauded and shall continue to applaud [his last opera], in which was revealed a composer who could combine masterly orchestration with a conception in keeping with the best spirit of Italy.
-Gazzetta del Popolo
Thanks to the Columbia University/New York City Opera Project for the quotes. Interesting side note: fifty years after the opera premiered, the NBC Symphony Orchestra recorded a performance of it with conductor Arthur Toscanini – who had conducted the opera when it premiered in Turin, Italy.
Ciao for now!