La bohème (Leoncavallo)
La bohème is an Italian opera in four acts, with music and libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger. The opera received a successful premiere at the Teatro la Fenice, Venice on 6 May 1897.
Leoncavallo wrote his opera La bohème contemporaneously with Giacomo Puccini's own treatment of the same story. Leoncavallo later revised the work, titling it Mimi Pinson, but despite initial respect, it did not survive. Puccini's version has become a standard in the operatic repertoire, whereas Leoncavallo's opera is rarely performed. Leoncavallo's version did not receive its UK premiere until May 1970.
Allan Atlas has analysed in detail the different treatments of the death of the Mimi character in both Leoncavallo's and Puccini's versions of La bohème, contrasting the historical success of Puccini's opera and the relative failure of Leoncavallo's.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere Cast, 6 May 1897
(Conductor: Alessandro Pomè)
|Schaunard, a musician||baritone||Jacques [Gianni] Isnardon|
|Marcello, a painter||tenor||Giovanni Beduschi|
|Rodolfo, a poet||baritone||Rodolfo Angelini-Fornari|
|Musetta||soprano||Elisa "Lison" Frandin|
|Colline, a philosopher||bass||Lucio Aristi|
|Students, working girls, townsfolk, shopkeepers, street-vendors,
soldiers, waiters, women and children - chorus
- Place: Paris.
- Time: one year from Christmas, 1837 to Christmas, 1838.
The innkeeper Gaudenzio tries in vain to eject the Bohemians, who never pay and are continually up to no good. During the conversation another piece of horseplay on their part is discovered. They sit down to dine, while Musetta gaily sings. (Canzonette: "Mimi is the name of my sweet blonde.") Naturally when they are asked to pay the bill, they have no money. A comic fight ensues between them and the innkeeper, who has called his servants to assist him. It is ended by Barbemuche, who offers to pay the bill.
The courtyard of Musetta's house
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Musetta's lover has left her, refusing any longer to pay her debts. In consequence, her furniture has been confiscated and is carried down to the courtyard. When this has been done, she returns home. She expects guests but cannot entertain them in any other way than by receiving them in the courtyard. Here the Bohemians, who arrive in large numbers, celebrate joyously. The neighbours, awakened from sleep, protest in vain and the scene ends in a general fight between the two factions.
Marcello's garret room
Musetta, who can no longer bear the sufferings of hunger and want, determines to leave Marcello. During the festivities in the courtyard, Mimi has allowed herself to be carried off by Count Paul, but she returns, motivated by love for Rodolfo. Musetta begs her to go with her, but she refuses. Angrily, Marcello and Rodolfo force both women to leave the apartment.
Rodolfo's garret room
Mimi returns to Rodolfo, at the brink of death. Musetta, who accidentally meets her there, sacrifices her jewels to procure fuel to warm the room for Mimi. As the Christmas chimes are heard, Mimi dies.
- "Musetta!...Testa adorata" (Marcello)
- "Io non ho che una povera stanzetta" (Marcello)
- "Musetta svaria sulla bocca viva" (Mimì)
- "Da quel suon soavemente" (Musetta)
- Klein, John W. (May 1970). "The Other 'Bohème'". The Musical Times (Musical Times Publications Ltd.) 111 (1527): 497–499. doi:10.2307/956015. JSTOR 956015.
- Dean, Winton (July 1970). "Festivals: 'La Bohème'". The Musical Times 111 (1529): 733. ISSN 0027-4666. JSTOR 956571.
- Atlas, Allan W. (Winter 1996). "Mimi's Death: Mourning in Puccini and Leoncavallo". The Journal of Musicology 14 (1): 52–79. doi:10.1525/jm.1996.14.1.03a00030. ISSN 0277-9269. JSTOR 763957.
- Holden, p. 489
- Holden, Amanda, ed., The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Puttnam, Inc, 2001
- Melitz, Leo, The Opera Goer's Complete Guide, 1921 version as source for the synopsis