La Bohéme Giacomo Puccini 1965 La Scala
La Scala, Milan, Italy
This is a four-act opera set to take place in Paris around the year 1830. The play focuses on a group of bachelor men who are all artistic, Bohemian types living in pretty run down conditions and also two women who are lovers of two of the bachelors. The opera is based on the book La bohéme by Henri Murger. This particular recording was given great reviews but the audio has been re-recorded and added to the video which at times I found a bit distracting since the power of the audio of someone singing did not quite match the images in the video.
In Act 1, we are introduced to the male characters (Rodolfo, Marcello, Colline and Schaunard) who are struggling to keep themselves warm in the apartment. One of the men arrives after having earned a good sum of money and the entire group decide to go out and live it up with a fine meal. The men leave but one, Rodolfo, stays behind to do some writing when a woman comes to their door needing a light for her candle which is not lit. Rodolfo, brings the woman, Mimi, in and lets her rest and warm up in his apartment. During this time, we can see an attraction start between them. The other three men return and call for Rodolfo to come to dinner and at this time Mimi decides to join them.
Act 2 opens with a public street and the restaurant where the men and Mimi have gone. The group is having a grand time with food, wine and cigars. It is during this scene where another woman, Musetta, arrives on the arm of a wealthy older gentleman. Musetta clearly has become bored with her companion and begins to sing aloud to get the attention of Marcello who is her former lover. Musetta then pretends to have a problem with her foot and sends her wealthy date way to take care of her shoe, which is when she gives all of her attention back to Marcello. At the end of the scene, the wealthy gentleman returns to find everyone gone and he is left with the bill!
Act 3 begins and it is winter. Mimi arrives at a local tavern but is coughing and appears to be sick. She speaks with Marcello who is at the tavern. Mimi appears to hide behind a tree while Marcello speaks to Rodolfo. Rodolfo talks about how he is poor and he hopes that by being aloof toward Mimi, she will go and find another who is better for her but she begins coughing and reveals her location. Rodolfo hurries to her. After speaking with one another, the two decide to stay together until the spring. All the while Marcello and Musetta are bickering in the background.
Act 4 is set back in the bachelor’s apartment from Act 1. Rodolfo and Marcello are attempting to work but seem to be distracted and talking about their women who have left them for wealthier men. Schaunard and Colline enter and the men are trying to enjoy a meager meal. Musetta arrives and is distraught. She has brought Mimi with her who is being carried in because her sickness has become very bad. Mimi is laid in a bed and appears to get a little better. Everyone leaves to give Rodolfo and Mimi some privacy and to try and buy medicine for Mimi. Rodolfo and Mimi profess their love for one another and talk of their memories together. The others return with medicine for Mimi, who tells Rodolfo she is feeling better but must rest. Then it is Schaunard who realizes that Mimi has died. Rodolfo rushes to her bed and call her name as he cries.
I found the setting on the stage and costuming to be very good for his performance. They felt like genuine locations and pretty realistic. My exposure to opera is very limited but I found the singing by the actors to be excellent. I liked that character of Marcello the most. The actor who portrayed that character had a way of commanding any scene which he was in. I am not sure if it was his voice of just his overall presence. I also liked the character of Musetta. I found her openness and brashness appealing and she drew me in.