- Giacomo Puccini. Opera in four acts. 1895.
- Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica,
after the novel Scène de la vie de bohème (Scene of Bohemian Life) by Henri Murger.
- First performance at the Teatro Regio, Turin, on 1st February 1896.
|Rodolfo, a poet ||tenor|
|Mimi, a seamstress ||soprano|
|Marcello, a painter ||baritone|
|Schaunard, a musician ||baritone|
|Colline, a philosopher ||bass|
|Musetta, a singer ||soprano|
|Benoit, their landlord ||bass|
|Alcindoro, state councillor ||bass|
|Parpignol, toy vendor ||tenor|
|Custom-house sergeant ||bass|
In an attic apartment in the Latin Quarter of Paris, a group of young artists are living together in
poverty. Their neighbour, the little seamstress Mimi, introduces herself, seeking a light for her
candle, when Rodolfo is left alone. They fall in love. At the Café Momus Rodolfo presents Mimi
to his friends, while the singer Musetta abandons her elderly rich lover Alcindoro in order to join
Marcello. Alcindoro is left to settle the bill for all of them. Time has passed. Mimi has lived with
Rodolfo, but they quarrel, because of his apparent jealousy. He has planned to leave her, as we learn
in a scene set on a cold winter morning by the city gates. Musetta, a contrast in character to the
gentle Mimi, later returns to the attic apartment of the four young men, bringing with her the dying
Mimi, whom they now try to comfort, but in vain, as she dies before their eyes of the consumption
that has racked her.
Ruggero Leoncavallo claimed priority in his own operatic version of La Bohème, with a libretto
of his own devising, based on the novel by Murger. His version was first performed on 6th May
1897 at the Teatro La Fenice, Venice, and won immediate, if not lasting success of the same degree
as Puccini's opera. The latter version is among the best known of all works in the current repertoire,
a thoroughly romantic treatment, with an element of realism in its setting. The score has provided
singers with operatic recital repertoire, in particular the tenor Che gelida manina (Your tiny hand is
frozen), Mimi's Mi chiamano Mimi (They call me Mimi), Rodolfo's O soave fanciulla (O sweet
girl) and Musetta's Waltz.