About the Show
The story is set in Paris in the period around 1830.
Rodolfo, a poet
Mimì, a seamstress
Marcello, a painter
Musetta, a singer
Schaunard, a musician
Colline, a philosopher
Benoît, their landlord
Alcindoro, a state councillor
Parpignol, a toy vendor
A customs Sergeant
Character Name Pronunciation:
Rodolfo - roh-DOHL-foh
Mimì - mee-MEE
Marcello - mahr-CHEH-loh
Schaunard - shoh-NAHR
Colline - koh-LEE-neh
Musetta - moo-ZEH-tah
Benoît - behn-WAH
Alcindoro - ahl-cheen-DOH-roh
Parpignol - PAHR-peen-yohl
Act 1: On Christmas Eve, in their freezing Parisian garret, Marcello, a painter, and Rodolfo, a poet, burn one of Rodolfo’s scripts to keep warm. Their roommates Colline, a philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician, arrive. Schaunard has made some money and brings provisions and cash. When Benoît, the landlord, arrives to collect the rent, they trick him into confessing his love affairs, then push him out in mock indignation. The friends leave to celebrate. Rodolfo stays behind to finish an article. A neighbor, Mimi, knocks at the door, looking for a light for her candle. They talk of life and art and fall in love.
Act 2: In the Latin Quarter, crowds jostle and bustle. Rodolfo introduces Mimi to his friends at the Café Momus. Marcello's old girlfriend, Musetta, arrives with her wealthy admirer, Alcindoro. She wants Marcello back, entices him, and sends Alcindoro off to buy her a new shoe. Marcello and Musetta embrace. When the bill arrives, everyone slips away, leaving Alcindoro to pay for all of them.
Act 3: A couple of months later, Mimi, now quite ill, seeks out Marcello at a tavern where he and Musetta now live. Rodolfo has left her and is staying at Marcello’s. When Rodolfo comes out, Mimi hides. Rodolfo tells Marcello that he left Mimi because she is a flirt, but finally admits that he is terrified by her illness and too poor to help her. Mimi’s coughing gives her away, and she and Rodolfo agree to separate, but then decide to stay together till spring. Meanwhile Marcello and Musetta quarrel fiercely.
Act 4: Some months later, Marcello and Rodolfo are pining for their lost loves, who have found rich new admirers. Schaunard and Colline arrive with food, followed by Musetta, who has found Mimi wandering the streets, deathly ill and pleading to see Rodolfo once more. They bring her in, settle her, and go off to pawn various items to buy medicine. Left alone, Rodolfo and Mimi reminisce. The others return, and Mimi quietly dies.
What or who are Bohemians?
Bohemia is a region in the Czech Republic, and its nomadic natives – a group that we often call Gypsies – were known as “Bohemians” in French. The term “Bohemian,” however, also came to mean anyone who behaved in strange ways and didn’t live their lives as most people do. Artists, writers, musicians, philosophers – these people shared certain traits with gypsies and therefore came to be known as “Bohemians.” All have a vagabond lifestyle and are known for their merry poverty and disregard of money and steady work in pursuit of freedom and relationships.
About the composer
When La Bohème premieres in 1896:
- Utah is admitted as the 45th U.S. state.
- H.L. Smith takes the first X-ray photograph.
- The Ford Quadricycle, the first Ford vehicle ever developed, is completed, eventually leading Henry Ford to build the empire that "put America on wheels".
- Queen Victoria surpasses her grandfather King George III as the longest reigning monarch in British history.
- U.S. presidential election, 1896: Republican William McKinley defeats William Jennings Bryan.