The most famous opera in the repertory gets a face-lift and a fresh new stage director.
First performed: Turin, Feb. 1 1896.
Language: Sung in Italian, with Met Titles.
Who’s in it?
Vittorio Grigolo, Maija Kovalevska, Kristine Opolais, Fabio Maria Capitanucci, Paul Plishka.
Joseph Calleja, Krassimira Stoyanova, Ellie Dehn, Fabio Maria Capitanucci, Paul Plishka.
Ramon Vargas, Maija Kovalevska, Piotr Beczala, Peter Mattei, Trevor Scheunemann, Paul Plishka
What’s it about?
This is the story of four Bohemian friends living in Paris, trying to survive. They are: the writer, (Rodolfo) the painter, (Marcello) the philosopher (Colline) and the musician (Schaunard). Rodolfo is an ardent poet who falls in love with Mimi, a seamstress. Marcello’s on-again, off-again relationship with Musetta is fraught with jealousy and drama. When Mimi becomes ill and dies of consumption, La bohéme goes from light-hearted story to serious drama. It is Puccini’s most powerful operas and one of the Met’s signature works.
Did you know?
La bohéme is the most frequently performed opera in the Met’s history.
What’s the music like?
Magnificent. Puccini was a gifted master of melody, and La bohéme opens with a glorious flood of sound. From Mimi’s entrance through to her Act I love duet with Rodolfo consists of a series of linked arias and duets, each one prettier than the last. “Sventatta, sventatta”, “Che gelida manina” and “O soave fanciulla” elevate the listener into a gorgeous arc of romantic ecstasy. The second act, with its children’s choruses and Musetta’s Waltz is a marvel of choral writing and crowd control. The third and fourth acts resume the intimate focus, as Puccini carries the work through to its heart-rending finale.
What’s the staging like?
This is the famous Franco Zeffirelli staging of the opera that includes an Act I stage set that depicts half the rooftops in Paris. Act II, set in the Latin Quarter, features the entire Latin Quarter on the stage, including the Cafe Momus and over 200 singers. But the greatest spectacle in this staging is in Act III, where a gate on the outskirts of Paris is bathed in a realistic-looking snowfall. It’s expensive. It’s over the top. And it never fails to wow the audience. This season features new stage direction from Roberto Rizzi Brignoli.
How long is Bohéme?
About three hours.
When is it playing?
First cast: Oct. 16, 20, 23, 28; Nov. 1, 5
Second cast: Dec. 1, 4, 8, 11
Third cast: Jan. 31; Feb. 3, 7, 10, 17, 22, 25