A four-act opera by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, based on the novel “Scènes de la vie de bohème” by Henri Murger

Performed in Italian with Romanian surtitles

World premiere: February 1, 1896, Teatro Regio in Torino

Premiere date for this performance at the Bucharest National Opera House: November 15, 2008

Performances in the 2015-2016 season:
November 5, 2015
December 18 and 20, 2015
January 22, 2016
March 3 and 19, 2016

Duration:
19h00 – 21h30 (with two intermissions)

Conductor: Cristian Sandu (guest) / Vlad Conta 

Artistic direction: Ionel Pantea
Sets: Ștefan Caragiu
Costumes: Liliana Cenean
Chorus master: Stelian Olariu
Children Chorus Master: Smaranda Morgovan

Assistant Director: Irina Furdui
Assistant choirmaster: Daniel Jinga


Cast of the 2015-2016 season: 

Rodolfo - Liviu Indricău / Lucian Corchiş / Florin Guzgă (guest)

Mimì - Mihaela Stanciu / Simona Neagu / Irina Iordăchescu

Musetta - Simonia Luţescu / Cristina Marta Sandu

Marcello - Florin Simionca / Cătălin Țoropoc

Schaunard - Valentin Vasiliu / Vasile Chişiu

Colline - Marius Boloş / Horia Sandu

Benoît - Mihnea Lamatic / Paul Basacopol (guest)

Alcindoro - Mihnea Lamatic / Paul Basacopol (guest)

A Customs Sergeant - Adrian Ionescu

Parpignol - Constantin Negru

—i

Famous recordings

→ Samuil A. Samosud, conductor / Irina Maslennikova (Mimì), Sergei Lemeshev (Rodolfo), Pavel Lisitsian (Marcello), Galina Sakharova (Musetta); Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra & Moscow Radio Symphony Chorus; 1954; Myto 2 MCD 975.172 (Studio).

→ Antonino Votto, conductor / Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, Rolando Panerai, Anna Moffo; Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala; 1956; EMI CDS 7 47475-8.

→ Tullio Serafin, conductor / Renata Tebaldi, Carlo Bergonzi, Ettore Bastianini, Gianna D' Angelo; Orchestra e Coro di Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia; 1958; Decca
411 868-2 (Studio).

→ Thomas Schippers, conductor / Mirella Freni, Nicolai Gedda, Mario Sereni, Mariella Adani; Orchestra e Coro del Teatro dell'Opera di Roma; 1963; EMI CMS 7 69657-2 (Studio).

→ Herbert von Karajan, conductor / Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti, Rolando Panerai, Elisabeth Harwood; Berliner Philharmoniker & Deutsche Oper Berlin Chor; 1972; Decca 421 049-2 (Studio).

→ Georg Solti, conductor / Montserrat Caballé, Plácido Domingo, Ruggero Raimondi, Judith Blegen; London Philharmonic Orchestra & John Alldis Choir – Wandworth School Boys' Choir; 1973; RCA Red Seal RD 80371, Studio.

→ Anton Guadagno, conductor / Ileana Cotrubaş, Plácido Domingo, Eberhard Wächter, Lotte Rysanek, Reid Bunger, Tugomir Franc; Wiener Staatsoper Orchester & Chor; 1973; House of Opera CDBB 385 (Live).

→ James Levine, conductor / Renata Scotto, Alfredo Kraus, Sherrill Milnes, Carol Neblett; National Philharmonic Orchestra & Ambrosian Opera Chorus; 1979; EMI Classics for Pleasure CD-CFPD 4708 (Studio).

→ Carlos Kleiber, conductor / Ileana Cotrubaş, Giacomo (Jaime) Aragall, Jonathan Summers, Sonia Ghazarian; Orchestra and Chorus of The Royal Opera House „Covent Garden”; 1979; Golden Melodram GM 60004, (Live).

→ Constantin Petrovici, conductor / Eugenia Moldoveanu, Ludovic Spiess, David Ohanesian, Elvira Cârje-Druică; Orchestra and Chorus of the National Bucharest Opera; 1980; Carlton Classics (IMP Classics) 30367 00547 (Studio).

→ Kent Nagano, conductor / Kiri Te Kanawa, Richard Leech, Alan Titus, Nancy Gustafson; London Symphony Orchestra and Ambrosian Opera Chorus & St. Clement Danes School Choir; 1994; ERATO 0630 10669-2 (Studio).

→ Antonio Pappano, conductor / Leontina Văduva, Roberto Alagna, Thomas Hampson, Ruth Ann Swenson; Philharmonia Orchestra and London Voices & London Oratory Boys' Choir; 1995; EMI CDS 5 56120-2 (Studio).

→ Riccardo Chailly, conductor /Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Simon Keenlyside, Elisabetta Scano; Orchestra e Coro del Teatro alla Scala; 1998; Decca 466 070-2 (Studio).

→ Bertrand De Billy, conductor / Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazón, Mariusz Kwicien, Nicole Cabell; Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks & Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks; 2007; live-rare-opera (no catalogue number), (Live).

About

I placed the action towards the end of the 19th century, but not in its first half, as it was in the libretto. Puccini himself lived this experience as a bohemian, during his studies in Milan, when he shared the room with Pietro Mascagani. He was even forced to sell his coat to make some money, not to save a young girl ailing from consumption, but to invite a young lady to dinner.

Ionel Pantea - director

 

For more than a hundred years, the sad story of the love between the characters of the opera “La Bohème” by Giacomo Puccini has accompanied us with its lovely music. In the history of the Romanian lyrical art, the main roles - Mimi, Rodolfo, Musetta, and Marcello – have a significant tradition, illustrating great careers of the soprano, tenor, baritone and bass.

Grigore Constantinescu – musicologist, Clipa Magazine, 15 December 2009

 

Destinies of dreamers

The most illustrative of Puccini’s works, – alongside “Turandot”, “Tosca” and “Madame Butterfly” – “La Bohème” draws up a portrait of the young bohemians from the Latin Quarter in Paris in the 1840s, highlighting the relationship between Rodolfo and Mimì. Inspired at the same time by the novel “La Vie de Bohème” by the French writer Henri Murger and its theatre version, the opera “La Bohème” is based on a libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. They took over a large part of the novel’s details and stage play, among which the combining of the two characters, Mimì and Francine, into one character (Mimì) and also the death of the main female character. With the tragic story of Rodolfo and Mimì, Puccini surprised not only the passion and turmoil of two young people’s souls, but also the romance and artistic glamour of France in the Belle Époque era. Though it is not easy to absorb, at a first glance, because of its sophisticated structure, Puccini’s opera had an immediate success with its premiere in 1896 at the Regio Theatre in Torino, conducted by Arturo Toscanini. Later on, in 1946, the same Toscanini conducted “La Bohème” in the interpretation of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, mainly created for a radio recording, the only one in which the conductor participated.

Memorable arias, young characters, a heart-breaking love story – are decisive elements of Puccini’s opera that fascinated along the years the devotees of the genre and which inspired modern musical productions such as the rock musical “Rent”, in 1996.

 

Synopsis

Act I

Paris, Christmas Eve. From the window of the garret where he lives, the poet Rodolfo gazes meditatively at the roofs of the snowy Paris, while Marcello, his friend, is painting. Rodolfo complains of the cold and decides to burn the manuscript he was working on to keep the fire lit in the chimney. Colline, their friend, the philosopher, arrives. Soon after, Schaunard, the musician also arrives, with a food basket, wine, fire wood, telling his friends how he managed to obtain money from a rich Englishman.

The four friends decide to celebrate at Café Momus in the Latin Quarter. They are interrupted by Benoît, the landlord, who arrives to collect the rent. The young men try to make him forget about the money and offer him a drink and ask him to tell them stories about his love affairs. Then, pretending to be outraged by the landlord’s frivolity, they chase him away, without the rent payment. The young men leave, leaving Rodolfo behind. He remains in the garret for a while, to finish an article for the newspaper he was working at.

A timid knock on the door interrupts him. It is Mimì, his neighbour, whose candle has blown out. She asks Rodolfo if she could light her candle from the fireplace. The girl feels sick and starts coughing. Rodolfo, attentive, helps her to the door. Mimì remembers she forgot the key and returns. The candle is blown out again, because of the wind. In the darkness, their hands meet and they fall in love.

On a spontaneous drive, the two of them decide to leave together for the Café where the other friends are waiting for Rodolfo.

Act II

The streets of the Latin Quarter in Paris are crowded. Rodolfo buys his lover a pink bonnet from a vendor. The girl gets acquainted with the three friends, who welcome her with sympathy. The toy vendor Parpignol passes along the sidewalk, surrounded by the children’s happy screaming. Marcello is overwhelmed with sadness, as he is disappointed in love.

All of them sit around a table in Café Momus. Musetta, the former sweetheart of painter Marcello, enters the place. She is dressed in elegant and expensive clothes and is holding the arm of an old, funny but rich man, named Alcindoro. The two sit down at a nearby table. Musetta still loves Marcello. The painter is also troubled by this meeting. To attract his attention, Musetta starts singing a song with which she displays her grace and coquetry, hoping thus to get the attention of her former sweetheart. Marcello is getting more and more agitated. Musetta pretends to be suffering from a tight shoe and sends Alcindoro to buy her another pair. Then, without any hesitation, she throws herself in Marcello’s arms. Joyful, the young people leave the café, as they realise that the money from Schaunard are not enough to pay the bill. Alcindoro returns with a new pair of shoes for Musetta, but he only finds the bill from the carousers.

Act III

The end of February. The snow has covered the entire city. Marcello and Musetta live at a tavern on the outskirts of Paris. Mimì, coughing violently, comes to Marcello and tells him about the misunderstanding between her and Rodolfo. Rodolfo appears after he spent the night at the tavern. Mimì hides; she doesn’t want him to see her. In his conversation with Marcello, Rodolfo reveals the true cause of the break-up: Mimì has tuberculosis, death is calling for her and she should save herself by finding a wealthier suitor.

Shocked by what she heard, and exposed by her cough, Mimì approaches Rodolfo trying to say goodbye. Their love is as strong and honest as the first time they met. The two of them put off their break-up until spring. Mimì leaves Rodolfo her pink bonnet as a reminder.

In the meantime, Marcello and Musetta continue with their usual program of daily quarrels. The last fight ends with a final break-up.

Act IV

Alone again in their little garret, Rodolfo and Marcello think of their former sweethearts, Mimì and Musetta. Colline and Schaunard arrive, they haven’t found any work. Making fun of the situation, the four young men try to forget their shortfall. Musetta appears, and tells them that Mimì, after breaking-up with Rodolfo, went under the protection of a rich gentleman but, not being able to forget Rodolfo, she left him. She is now on the ground floor of the building where the young men live, very ill and too weak to climb the stairs all by herself. Rodolfo goes down in a hurry. Musetta tells how Mimì was so in love that she wanted to see her lover for the last time, because she felt her end was near. Exhausted, Mimì falls down on the bed. Musetta gives Marcello her earrings so he could buy medicine and call for a doctor. Colline sacrifices his coat, which he sells to help his friend. Rodolfo and Mimì remember their happy moments. The little pink bonnet is under the pillow of the poor girl. Musette buys her the warm muff that she really wanted. After another acute cough attack, but with a smile on her face, next to Rodolfo, Mimì closes her eyes forever. 

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