A painter, a musician, a philosopher and a poet are having a night on the town. Café Momus is too pricey for them — they've nothing to weigh down those moth-eaten pockets. But why worry? The landlord is sorted, the bar tab can wait. They're young and their lofty ideals will keep body and soul together.
And then there's love. Ah, love. That tingle of electricity as two hands meet. The fire in the eyes of the girl you want so badly. Love will keep us warm, won't it?
Nearly 120 years after Puccini wrote his smash-hit La bohème, this story of first love still tops the list of most performed operas around the world.
Perhaps the tale of four friends living for their art reminds us of a person we weren't brave enough to become. Perhaps Puccini's talent for capturing emotion in music takes us back to the first time we felt love stir in our hearts.
Perhaps it's just that La bohème is a story we understand. It's about friendship and falling in love.
It's about sacrifice and never giving up, even if it means parting with your lover — or your favourite coat.
Gale Edwards' glittering production provides a perfect setting for these utterly human emotions: in the bohemian streets of 1930s Berlin, in the colour and chaos of street fairs and burlesque bars, fairylights and fishnet stockings.
|Revival Director||Matthew Barclay
& Andy Morton
|Set Designer||Brian Thomson|
|Costume Designer||Julie Lynch|
|Lighting Designer||John Rayment|
Opera Australia Children's Chorus
Running time: approximately 2 hours & 15 minutes, including one 20-minute interval.
Performed in Italian with English surtitles.
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.
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 the 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.
The square in which the 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!
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.
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.