La Bohème - Romance Tragedy and Nuance - Jo-Ann Carson

La Bohème – Romance Tragedy and Nuance


Adolfo Hohenstein’s poster for the 1896 production of Puccini’s La Boheme

The Story

La Bohème is Puccini’s most popular opera and has been performed by all the greats including Pavarotti.

“…the libretto of La bohème is based on Henri Murger‘s novel, Scènes de la vie de bohème, a collection of vignettes portraying young bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s. Although usually called a novel, it has no unified plot. … the opera’s libretto focuses on the relationship between Rodolfo and Mimì, ending with her death.” (Wikipedia)

The Romance

No once can do Romance better than the opera. The singers swept me away into a world of emotion. I felt their passion and their pain. Their talent brought me to my knees.

The Tragedy

Mimi dies, but you know it’s coming and her death transforms all the major characters giving the ending a bitter-sweetness. That is if tragedy can be bitter-sweet. Nuances of emotion stayed with me long after the curtains closed. Puccini is a master story teller.

The Performance

I watched La Boehme on Saturday through Cineplex’s ‘Live at the Met’ program, which transmits the live production from New York City.  The lead singers were amazing: Vittorio Grigolo who played Rodolfo, Massimo Cavalleti who played Marcello and Susanna Phillips who played Musetta.

Kristine Opolais

Kristine Opolais

The most amazing performance, however, was the ‘stand-in’ for Mimi, Kristine Opolais. Now this is quite the story. She sang Madame Butterfly the night before, went to bed at 4:30 am and was awoken at 7:30 to be asked to fill in for the regular singer who was too ill. Opolais’s singing and acting were flawless. She will go down in history as the only woman who died twice within twenty four hours on the stage of the MET.

Why Opera?

It has everything.

0 Replies to “La Bohème – Romance Tragedy and Nuance”

  1. Is this the opera that the Broadway musical Rent is a takeoff of? Many talented folks, I’m sure have over the years been in these productions.My daughter even choreographed it at a local community theatre. It was a great production, but I just don’t like shows that don’t turn out okay. The music, singing, an production of things like these two shows and Le Miz and Phantom are awesome, but I don’t like the stories.
    Now having said that, did you hear who’s playing the Phantom in the next production? Fantastic actor from (among other things Scandal) who I didn’t know could sing. Saw piece on some show with him. Apparently he’s done this a lot and the Scandal part is more of the oddity. He is the first African American to play the role. How cool is that? Well, not that it’s taken so long, but that it’s happening and he’s doing it. Forgive me I’ve rambled–even more than my usual. He played a Senator who was in love with the heroine. I’m so bad with names. I can’t remember either. 🙁 I’ll share this anyway.

    1. Hi Marsha
      Yes, apparently Rent is based on La Boheme, but I haven’t seen it. Hope to one day.
      I like how you know exactly what you want from a story. I tend to dabble about like a fat lady at a smorgasboard. I too like HEAs, but some stories like Romeo and Juliet need a tragic ending to really make the romance stand out. Sometimes I find the ‘required HEA’ of Romance a bit limiting. But I so understand wanting to finish a story with happiness.
      Great to hear they cast an African American in the lead role for Phantom. Times they are changing…and for the better. Now that’s my HEA for today.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting Marsha. I always enjoy your comments.
      In fact I quoted you the other day. A friend and I were discussing the agony of cutting favorite pieces out of our writing and I passed along your sage advice about keeping them all in a special place to be used later. It’s certainly helped me. So again…thank you.
      Happy writing

      1. Oh, Jo-Ann, you don’t want to even get me started on Romeo and Juliet. We taught that to H.S. Freshmen for generations. Great lesson to learn. You don’t like how things are going at the time, take your own life! LOL My soapbox.
        I think I’d be more willing to read other things, Jo-Ann if I had more time to read. Over the years, I’ve read lots of different genres including ScFi, lots of historicals, mysteries, and spy thrillers, paranormals, and sweet romances. I’m just limited in time now, so I read what I love or something an author I really really like has written. 🙂 Always love your blog.

  2. I had a friend who sang opera. She used to tell some great stories about backstage and when she talked about the operas she could bring them alive. But I have to admit I couldn’t really enjoy operas that weren’t sung in English and I believe the production she did was in French. I’m glad you enjoyed this production and I loved the Phantom we saw in NY city. Maybe one day we’ll get a chance to see another Broadway show my NY buddy!

    1. Hi Pat
      How lucky for you to know an opera singer. I bet she has lots of good stories.
      One of the many things I like about ‘Live at the Met’ is that there are English sub-titles, and each act is introduced and later discussed. It’s great for a newbie like me.
      I’d love to go to Broadway with you again Pat. How about 2015?
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.

  3. I agree, Jo-Ann. Opera has everything – but it’s the music which pulls me in with its emotional depth and beauty. The plot can sometimes require a rapid suspension of disbelief but then the music takes over and I’m agonizing with Mimi or Rodolfo. Musetta had a rather stunning gown too. Would love to try it on – all that burgundy satin and lace. Sigh. So glad we can share metoperas with each other.

    1. Hi Helena
      Agonizing says it well. My gosh these characters have heart aches. lol. The dress was gorgeous. I’m glad that we have the metoperas to share as well.
      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation.

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