Opera by Giacomo Puccini.
History of creation
After considering the plot of "Scenes of Bohemian Life" by the French writer Henri Murger, Puccini commissioned Giacosa and Illica to write the libretto, who worked on it for over two years. While creating "Manon Lescaut", Puccini did not hesitate to take the risk of his work competing with Massenet's acclaimed opera with an identical plot. Nor did he stop at the fact that Leoncavallo, the celebrated author of "Pagliacci", had also begun work on Massinet's plot. At the time, the two composers were quite close. When Puccini shared his intention with Leoncavallo, his friend was surprised to say that he had the same idea. "Then there will be two Bohemian operas," Puccini snapped.
He worked with great enthusiasm on this opera and managed to complete "La bohème" in eight months.
The first performance of "La bohème" took place on 1 February 1896 in Turin under the conductorship of Arturo Toscanini. Immediately, in the space of only a few days, the opera was performed in many Italian theatres – in Rome, Naples, Palermo, and in Palermo the entire first act was encored.
"La bohème" was first performed in Bulgaria in 1922 by the Sofia Opera. Conductor was Maestro Georgi Atanasov and the director – N. D. Vekov.
The action takes place in Paris in 1830.
With the soecial participation of artists from the master classes of Raina Kabaivanska at New Bulgarian Univresity and scholarship holders of her grant fund, supported by Fantastico, A1 and KFM.
In a Parisian attic, two friends – the poet Rоdolfо and the painter Marcello – try to work, but the room is so frosty that soon the one leaves the pen and the other throws away the brush. Both are cold and hungry, but cheerful, their only concern being whether to sacrifice the chair, or something else, to warm themselves at least a little. Rоdolfо gets the idea to light the stove with the manuscript of the play he is currently writing and immediately carries out his intention.
At this time comes the philosopher Colline, who thoroughly observed the burning of the manuscript. Shortly afterwards, the musician Shaunard enters, laden with packages. To the friends, this seems real magic! And Shaunard has thought of everything: he has bought all kinds of goodies, wine and even a handful of wood. In front of the merrily roaring stove, the four begin their unexpected little feast. There is a knock at the door and, much to the friends' annoyance, Benoît the landlord appears. He has come for the rent of the lodgings. To give money at this very moment is almost a crime to the four bohemians, and they begin to look for a way to get rid of, or at least postpone, this unpleasant obligation. Eventually they manage to lure old Benoît away, send him away and immediately resume the merrymaking. And since it's Christmas Eve, Rоdolfо, Marcello, Colline and Schaunard are eager to continue having fun at their favourite café in the Latin Quarter.
The proposal was adopted unanimously and everyone, except Rоdolfо who has to finish an article, heads to the café. As soon as the others leave, the poet, wasting no time, takes up the pen. There is a timid knock at the door. An unfamiliar girl appears, a neighbour of the friends, who has come to ask for a match for her extinguished candle. But as soon as she reaches to light the candle, it is blown out. Rоdolfо immediately rushes down to help her. He contemplates the beautiful stranger with admiration. After a while, the young woman recovers her composure and leaves, but immediately returns – she has lost the key to her room. As they search for it in the attic, Rоdolfо's candle goes out. In the resulting semi-darkness, the poet and the maiden express the excitement that has overtaken them and tell each other their stories. Rоdolfо, captivated by the purity and naivety of the beautiful Mimi, does not hesitate to reveal to her the feelings that burn within him. Mimi is thrilled and asks Rоdolfо to take her with him tonight. Their amorous outpourings are interrupted by Marcello, Schаunard and Colline, who impatiently urge Rоdolfо to hurry. Overjoyed, the poet and Mimi join the merry company of the Bohemians.
The four friends and Mimi are sitting at one of the tables in front of the Momus café in the Latin Quarter. They are in a great mood and joking around. A strange couple appears – a young girl with an elderly and very important gentleman of dignified age. This is Musetta, the friend of Marcello, with whom they have quarrelled, and she is now being courted by the rich Alcindoro, who is not at all pleased to be in this setting. But it is not by chance that Musetta has come to the café Momus, here she had planned to meet her lover. To make him jealous, she flirts daringly and unrestrainedly with her old cavalier. Marcello pretends not to see her, and even the breaking of plates fails to make the artist give the appearance of having noticed her. Alcindoro, on the other hand, is aghast at his lady's behaviour. Suddenly Musetta cries out loudly in pain, which startles Alcindoro, and Marcello instinctively jumps up to see what has happened to her. The resourceful girl indicates that she is clutching her shoe and that Alcindoro should buy her new shoes. With ill-concealed displeasure the worthy squire sets out to fill the order. Musetta throws herself into Marcello's arms and they join the rest of the company. The Bohemians have taken the liberty of eating and drinking more than Shaunard's money will allow. This makes them quite uneasy, but Musetta tells the waiter that the entire bill will be paid by her squire. Amused, the four friends, along with Mimi and Musetta, mingle with the crowd.
Early February morning. Marcello paints the company of a pub, near a customs post in a Paris suburb. Suddenly Mimi comes in. The girl has come to consult Marcello. The relationship between her and Rodolfo has deteriorated, he inexplicably behaves rudely, and at the same time is furiously jealous of her. At that moment, Rodolfo himself appears and Mimi hides. The young poet in turn reveals to Marcello what is troubling him – Mimi is seriously ill without knowing it. Her life with him is miserable because he is poor and finds it impossible to provide her with the conditions she needs in this state. According to Rodolfo, love is ruining Mimi and for her sake, he wants them to separate. The hidden Mimi learns the terrible truth. Her sobs give her away and she reveals herself. Overwhelmed by bitter remorse, Rodolfo struggles in vain to comfort her – it is now Mimi who insists on separation. The amused Musetta arrives. So far, she has been enjoying herself in the company of the pub's customers. Marcello, furious, reproaches her for her frivolity and the two quarrel again.
In their Parisian attic, Rodolfo and Marcello try in vain to work. Although they won't admit it, they are absorbed in the thought of their beloved. Shaunard and Colline arrive and they all sit down to a modest lunch. They try to lighten the tense atmosphere with jokes. The anxious Musetta appears. She brings with her Mimi, who is so unwell she is unable to even climb the stairs. The friends immediately rush to her aid and put her to bed. The girl needs a doctor and medicine, but for that she needs money. Musetta takes off her earrings and sends Marcello to sell them and use the money to buy a muff to warm Mimi's frostbitten hands. Colline, who has nothing but his nice coat, also decides to sell it. Everyone comes out to look for help. Left alone, Rodolfo and Mimi relive the wonderful moments of their first meeting, of their passionate love. They are happy again, but briefly. Mimi feels sick again. Frantic with worry, Rodolfo begins to cry for help. At that moment, the friends return with medicine, and Marcello brings the dream muff. Mimi puts the muff on and quietly relaxes.
Rodolfo thinks she has fallen into a gentle slumber. The embarrassment on his friends' faces reveals the cruel truth. He wails despairingly over the breathless body of his beloved.