Set during the first Christmas following the end of World War I, this production features the magic of the Parisian Latin Quarter and Giacomo Puccini’s unmatched ability to capture love’s passion and hope. This is the story of Mimì who spends her days embroidering and her nights longing for springtime. Literally in search of light, a match for her only candle, she instead finds happiness and friendship with a band of young bohemians – a handsome poet, a philosopher, a painter, a musician, and a good-time girl. Briefly, Mimì and Rodolfo make a place of love for themselves, until poverty prevails. Based on the lives of bohemians, including Puccini himself, La bohème rings true. Sung in Italian with English supertitles. Run-time is approximately three hours.
|Role||4/15, 4/16, 4/20, 4/23, 4/28, 4/30|
|Mimì||Sylvia Lee/Julie Adams|
|Schaunard||Brian James Myer|
*Casting subject to change without notice
Note from GD Larry Hancock: Though few in the audience ever notice it, Acts I and II of La bohème are set on Christmas Eve. Our production will be just a little different than usual, opening on the first Christmas after the Great War. Our old and dear friends are having their first Christmas together after the armistice, and are reunited with their old friends at the Cafe Momus, where they mingle with Nijinsky, Stravinsky, Coco Channel, Picasso and others who made Paris between the wars one of the most glittering and illuminating decades in history. Join our bohemians at the start of the most optimistic time in the 20th century, in one of the most fascinating cities in the world.
Act I: Christmas, 1918 – Paris
In their cold attic, two of the four bohemian inhabitants are trying to keep a fire going in their stove: Marcello, a painter, is prevented from burning a chair by Rodolfo, a poet, who instead sacrifices one of his manuscripts. They are joined by Colline, a philosopher. Their friend Schaunard, a musician, arrives with food and drink. After foiling a visit by Benoit, their landlord, who demands payment of their overdue rent, all except Rodolfo leave for the Café Momus. Rodolfo answers a knock at the door to find a neighbor, Mimì, seeking a light for her candle. Before leaving, she is seized by a fit of coughing and begins to faint. Rodolfo revives her and she leaves, but returns a moment later for her lost key. As she and Rodolfo look for it, their hands touch. He tells her about himself and his dreams, and at his request she follows with a narration of her own life and longings. They embrace, declaring their love as they hear Rodolfo’s friends calling from the street.
Act II: Same evening, Café Momus in the Latin Quarter
After Rodolfo buys Mimì a little bonnet as a present, they join their friends at the café, which is situated in a square filled with a holiday crowd. Marcello is angered when his former lover, Musetta, arrives with her wealthy “protector” Alcindoro. She watches him and sings a provocative song deliberately directed at Marcello; after sending Alcindoro on an errand, she joins Marcello and his friends at their table. The bohemians depart, leaving Alcindoro with the bill.
Act III: Midwinter, at one of the city’s gates
Marcello is now living with Musetta at an inn on the outskirts of Paris. Mimì, sick and distraught, arrives looking for him. She tells him how difficult life has become with Rodolfo’s jealousy. Aware that Rodolfo is about to come outside, Mimì starts to leave but then hides when she hears his voice. She overhears him tell Marcello of his fear that her illness is fatal and he can’t afford to care for her. A sudden coughing fit reveals Mimì’s presence. Musetta and Marcello begin to quarrel. Mimì and Rodolfo agree to remain together until spring.
Act IV: The attic
Now separated from their sweethearts, Rodolfo and Marcello attempt to work while commiserating in their loneliness (O Mimi, tu piu non torni – Oh Mimi, will you not return?). Schaunard and Colline bring some food and drink, and for a while the four friends forget their hardships with a few moments of levity. Musetta arrives abruptly, and tells them that Mimi is outside, too weak from her illness to come upstairs. Rodolfo hurries to help her, and the friends try to make her comfortable in the attic. Musetta, taking Marcello with her, hurries to sell her jewelry in order to buy a muff to warm Mimi’s hands. Colline offers to sell his only coat to buy some medicine (Vecchia zimarra – Old coat), and urges Schaunard to give the lovers some time together. Left alone, Rodolfo and Mimi wistfully recall their first meeting and happy days together (Sono andati? – Have they gone?). The friends return with medicine and the muff, but they are too late – Mimi dies peacefully, surrounded by her friends and her beloved Rodolfo.
Introduction to Opera
At 6:30 before evening performances and at 1:30 before matinees, a free talk will be presented in the California Theatre that will acquaint you with the composer’s life, his place in the history of opera, the story and its characters. If you are attending the 1:30 or 6:30 Introduction, you must be ticketed for that day’s performance; and your ticket must be torn as you enter the building.
MLK Library Previews
A one-hour preview for each 2015-16 production is presented free of charge in the Beethoven Center, located on the 5th Floor of the Dr. MLK Library in San Jose (located at the corner of Fourth and San Fernando Streets). Moderated by GD Larry Hancock, the preview includes a lecture and performances by OSJ artists. Dates for previews are as follows:
- Lucia di Lammermoor: August 30, 2016
- The Barber of Seville: November 1, 2016
- Silent Night: January 31, 2017
- La bohème: April 4, 2017
All previews begin at 12 noon.
Opera at Your Doorstep Lecture Series
Increase your understanding of opera and enjoy upcoming Opera San José performances all the more by attending one of longtime OSJ subscriber Bradford Wade’s FREE previews. Dates for La bohème lecture talks will be announced shortly. For more information about the Opera at Your Doorstep Lecture Series and/or to RSVP, email OperaAtYourDoorstep@gmail.com.
Join us for a pre-performance brunch in the elegant courtyard of the California Theatre on Sunday, April 23 at 1 p.m. Tickets ($35) can be purchased by calling the OSJ Box Office @ (408) 437-4450.
Costumes for La bohème made possible by a generous gift from Clint and Mary Gilliland.
Performances of La bohème are made possible, in part, by a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José and the Applied Materials Foundation.