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La Bohème

Puccini

La Bohème

2017
Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House

With the flickering of a candle, love sparks. Two hands meet in the dark and four friends' lives are changed forever.

The way that first love grabs hold of your insides and floods you with something you've never felt before. The fire that burns you the first time jealousy flares. The growing up you do in the instant you realise love can't last forever. Puccini takes these achingly human feelings and sets them to music — music that soars with the ecstacy of love, crackles with the pain of jealousy and cries with the agony of loss.

Some human emotions are too big for words alone, and for that, we have music. La Bohème exposes your soul to the feelings that only music can express, and it opens our season most years because that's an experience everyone should have in their lifetime.

Gale Edwards' glittering production, set in the bohemian streets of 1930s Berlin, offers a perfect showcase for Mariangela Sicilia and Greta Bradman, sharing the role of Mimì.


Cheese board

Head up the stairs at the Joan Sutherland Theatre to enjoy the pop-up bar with an unbeatable view of the harbour, exclusive to ticket holders. The bar opens 90 minutes before evening performances. See the menu.


Conductor

Carlo Montanaro (until Jan 23)
Pietro Rizzo

Director Gale Edwards
Assistant Director

Matthew Barclay
Andy Morton
Johanna Puglisi 

Revival Director Hugh Halliday
Set Designer Brian Thomson
Costume Designer Julie Lynch
Lighting Designer John Rayment
   
Mimì Mariangela Sicilia (until 23 Jan, except 5 & 7 Jan)
Greta Bradman (5, 7 Jan & from 24 Feb)
Rodolfo Ji-Min Park (until 23 Jan, except 5 & 7 Jan)
Ho-Yoon Chung (5 & 7 Jan)
Arthur Espiritu (from 24 Feb)
Musetta

Taryn Fiebig (until 23 Jan)
Julie Lea Goodwin

Marcello Christopher Tonkin (until 23 Jan)
Andrew Jones
Colline Richard Anderson
Schaunard Shane Lowrencev
Benoit Graeme Macfarlane
Alcindoro Adrian Tamburini (until 23 Jan)
Tom Hamilton
Officer Clifford Plumpton
Sergeant Malcolm Ede
Parpignol Benjamin Rasheed

Opera Australia Orchestra

Opera Australia Chorus

Opera Australia Children's Chorus


Please note: this production contains partial nudity.


Running time: approximately 2 hours & 15 minutes, including one 20-minute interval.

The StoryHide

A poet, a painter, a musician and a philosopher walk into a bar (no really!) to celebrate a sudden windfall in a lean winter. It’s Christmas Eve, and the poet has just felt the first pangs of great love. When a seamstress knocks on his door searching for candlelight, the pair fall in love faster than she can sing, "Yes, they call me Mimì…"

Between the ideals of love and art and the cruel realities of cold winters, bitter jealousies and empty pockets, two sets of lovers are trying to find their way.

By the time the curtain falls, you’ll know the answer to an eternal question:

Is love enough?

Not afraid of spoilers? Read the full synopsis.

Act I

It is Christmas Eve. Rodolfo, a poet, and Marcello, a painter, are freezing in their studio. Marcello is painting The Crossing of the Red Sea. Colline, a philosopher, arrives as the fire Rodolfo has lit with one of his manuscripts, flickers and dies. Schaunard brings reinforcements — food, wine and fuel for the fire, bought with unexpected money from his earnings as a musician.

A knock at the door and Benoit, the landlord, arrives demanding the rent. The four Bohemians ply him with wine and then bundle him off. Marcello, Colline and Schaunard go off to join the celebrations at Café Momus. Promising to join them soon, Rodolfo settles down to finish an article he is writing.

There is another knock. This time it is a neighbour, Mimì — a beautiful young seamstress, holding her key and an unlit candle. She begs a light and Rodolfo obliges. Mimì departs and drops her key. Together they search for the key, and their hands touch. They tell each other about themselves and Rodolfo passionately declares his love. The new lovers then set off into the night to join the others.

Act II

The square in which Café Momus is situated is the Bohemians' favourite haunt, bustling with shoppers and hawkers. Rodolfo buys his new love a bonnet.

At the café, Marcello's old flame, Musetta, appears with a new admirer, Alcindoro. To attract Marcello's attention, Musetta bursts into her famous waltz song. Marcello responds and Musetta, pretending that her shoe is pinching, dispatches Alcindoro to a cobbler. She joins in the revelry with Marcello and his friends. When they depart they leave a reminder for the hapless Alcindoro on his return — a huge bill!

Act III

It is daybreak just inside a tollgate. Snow lies on the ground. Mimì emerges from the throng of workers. She is looking for Marcello at a nearby inn where he and Musetta have been living for the past month. Pale and agitated, she tells him of Rodolfo's jealousy which has made their life together impossible.

Mimì hides as Rodolfo suddenly appears. He declares her to be unfaithful, but then confides to Marcello that Mimì is very ill and blames himself and his poverty for not being able to help her. Mimì's sudden coughing betrays her presence and the lovers sadly decide it is best that they part.

Their parting duet is interrupted by the sounds of a fierce quarrel between Marcello and Musetta. Mimì and Rodolfo decide to stay together until spring returns.

Act IV

The studio, months later.

Both pairs of lovers have now parted. Mimì and Musetta have found wealthy admirers.  Rodolfo and Marcello feign indifference, but neither can forget the memory of his love. Schaunard and Colline arrive with meagre food and the four sit down to a mock 'banquet'.

While they are acting the fool, Musetta rushes in with news that Mimì is desperately ill and has asked to be brought back to Rodolfo to die. Musetta explains that the Viscount has discarded Mimì and she has been living on the streets for weeks sinking further into poverty and desperation. The Bohemians rally to the cause. Musetta pawns her earrings and Colline his beloved coat to buy medicine for Mimì.

Alone for a short time, Mimì and Rodolfo recall the past, reliving their short spell of happiness and their dreams together. Mimì, seized by a coughing fit, falls back, exhausted. When the others return, she weakly thanks them for their kindness and falls asleep.

It is Schaunard who first notices that Mimì is dead. Rodolfo is the last to realise, by seeing the truth on his friends' faces.

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