The activities in this guide address several aspects of La Bohème:
- Puccini’s use of vocal and instrumental music to depict his central characters and their relationships
- The recurrence of musical themes in the opera
- The opera as a unified work of art, involving a wide range of creative decisions by the composer, the librettists, and the artists of the Metropolitan Opera
The guide is intended to cultivate students’ interest in La Bohème whether or not they have any prior acquaintance with opera. It includes activities for students with a wide range of musical backgrounds, seeking to encourage them to think about opera—and the performing arts in general— as a medium of entertainment and as creative expression.
Getting to Know Her—and Him: Assessing Two Characters in La Bohème
Six characters feature prominently in La Bohème—four men, roommates in a Paris garret, and two women, the on-and-off girlfriends of two of the men. The plot is simple: The two couples fall (or have fallen) in love, out of love, and back in love again until, at the end, one of the women dies. Within this simple scenario, Puccini depicts personalities and interpersonal relationships in intricate detail. This activity offers students guidance in examining Puccini’s musical craftsmanship as they meet Rodolfo, the artist, and Mimì, his lovely but sickly girlfriend—and as Rodolfo and Mimì meet each other for the first time.
- listen closely to two related arias
- consider the implications of Puccini’s choices of tone, tempo, dynamics, and orchestration
- independently assess the personalities of two characters
- try their hand at creating their own character introductions in prose