“La più divina delle poesie è quella, amico, che c'insegna amare!”
(“The highest purpose of poetry is to teach us to love!”)
- La bohème, Giacomo Puccini
What is La bohème?
An opera in four acts composed by Giacomo Puccini. The opera premiered on February 1, 1896 in Turin, Italy. It is one of the most frequently performed and widely loved operas in the world.
AVA's first production of La bohème was in the 1962-63 season and it has been performed here nine times including roughly every five years since 1990. See below for information on some past AVA productions and some recent appearances by AVA alumni on stages around the world.
“La bohème” translates to “the bohemian.” Derived from the French, “bohemian” is referred to as a gypsy or someone socially unconventional who is often involved in the arts.
Giacomo Puccini (full name: Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini).
Puccini (1858-1924) was an Italian composer whose work contributed largely to the traditional late-19th-century romantic Italian opera. He has penned other important works such as Madama Butterfly (dramatic), Tosca (melodramatic), Gianni Schicchi (comedic) and Turandot (a queen who kills men for sport).
The opera is based on the novel, La Vie de Bohème (Scenes of the bohemian) by Henri Murger written in 1851. The piece is a collection of interwoven stories that romanticize the bohemian life. Puccini wrote the music and the libretto, or lyrics, were written by Luigi Illica and Guiseppe Giacosa.
The Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s. Sometimes a garret (top-floor, attic room) as well.
Rodolfo, a poet
Mimì, a seamstress
Musetta, a singer
Marcello, a painter
Schaundard, a musician
Colline, a philosopher
Benoît, their landlord
Alcindoro, a state councillor
Parpignol, a toy vender
A customs Sergeant
1. Four bohemians live on insufficient costs but still manage to live life according to the bohemian
truths: freedom, beauty, truth and love.
2. Rodolfo encounters Mimì and true love ensues (at first candlelight).
3. Mimì coughs violently (foreshadowing!).
4. Marcello and Musetta continue their on-again off-again romance, making them both crazy mad but eventually fall into each other’s arms.
5. It snows.
6. Rodolfo and Mimi part, his jealousy masking concern for her illness.
7. Spoiler Alert! Rodolfo and Mimì get back together in time for her to die peacefully in his arms.
Famous Hits from the Opera (click for YouTube videos):
“Che gelida manina” (“Your little hand is cold”) – Rodolfo’s tender aria upon meeting Mimì for the first time.
“Quando me’n vo” (also known as Musetta’s Waltz in Act II) – Musetta taunts a former lover flirtatiously.
“Donde lieta uscite” – Mimì’s final aria in which she reveals to Rodolfo that she is dying.
AVA and La bohème:
2010: Zach Borichevsky (’12) and Jan Cornelius (’11) sang the roles on AVA's Helen Corning Warden Theater stage. This past season, Mr. Borichevsky performed the role with the Finnish National Opera and Ms. Cornelius sang Musetta with Opera Birmingham (AL). Both Maria Aleida (’12) and Corinne Schaefer portrayed the role of Musetta while Steven LaBrie (’13) sang Marcello.
Mr. LaBrie will be performing the role of Schaunard in The Dallas Opera’s production of La bohème in late March 2015. Schaunard was sung by Norman Garrett and Ryan Kuster (’11). Colline was performed by both Scott Conner (’12) and Nicholas Masters (’11). Zachary Nelson (’13) sung the roles of Benoit/ Alcindoro and Viktor Antipenko (’12) portrayed the role of Parpignol.
RENT! Jonathan Larson, 1996
La bohème on Broadway directed by Baz Luhrmann, 2002 featuring AVA alumni James Valenti, Jesus Garcia and Rebecca Garcia.
Breathe – Umphefumlo directed by Dornford-May and Pauline Malefane. This contemporary version of Puccini’s opera is set in South Africa. The score of the film will be played by an orchestra of marimbas and steel pans.
Samantha van Adelsberg is a Los Angeles native working in AVA's marketing department and managing the AVA Young Professionals group. Samantha holds two degrees from Binghamton University in English and Vocal Performance and is an active rock vocalist in the Philadelphia music scene.