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Puccini’s timeless tragedy returns with three dynamic duos as the bohemian lovers. Sopranos Federica Lombardi, Anita Hartig, and Elena Stikhina alternate as the heartbreaking seamstress Mimì, and tenors Matthew Polenzani, Stephen Costello, and Joseph Calleja share the role of the love-struck poet Rodolfo. Sopranos Olga Kulchynska, Heidi Stober, and Kristina Mkhitaryan and baritones Adam Plachetka and Alexey Markov are the tempestuous lovers Musetta and Marcello, and maestros Carlo Rizzi and Marco Armiliato take the podium to oversee Franco Zeffirelli’s magnificent production.
Production a gift of Mrs. Donald D. Harrington
Revival a gift of The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation
Languages sung in La Bohème
Title languages displayed for La Bohème
Met Titles In
Timeline for the show, La Bohème
Estimated Run Time
Acts I and II
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World premiere: Teatro Regio, Turin, 1896. La Bohème, the passionate, timeless, and indelible story of love among young artists in Paris, can stake its claim as the world’s most popular opera. It has a marvelous ability to make a powerful first impression and to reveal unsuspected treasures after dozens of hearings. At first glance, La Bohème is the definitive depiction of the joys and sorrows of love and loss; on closer inspection, it reveals the deep emotional significance hidden in the trivial things—a bonnet, an old overcoat, a chance meeting with a neighbor—that make up our everyday lives.
Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) was immensely popular in his own lifetime, and his mature works remain staples in the repertory of most of the world’s opera companies. His librettists for La Bohème, Giuseppe Giacosa (1847–1906) and Luigi Illica (1857–1919), also collaborated with him on his next two operas, Tosca and Madama Butterfly. Giacosa, a dramatist, was responsible for the stories and Illica, a poet, worked primarily on the words themselves.
Peter J. Hall
The libretto sets the action in Paris, circa 1830. This is not a random setting, but rather reflects the issues and concerns of a particular time when, following the upheavals of revolution and war, French artists had lost their traditional support base of aristocracy and church. The story centers on self-conscious youth at odds with mainstream society—a Bohemian ambience that is clearly recognizable in any modern urban center. La Bohème captures this ethos in its earliest days.
Lyrical and touchingly beautiful, the score of La Bohème exerts an immediate emotional pull. Many of its most memorable melodies are built incrementally, with small intervals between the notes that carry the listener with them on their lyrical path. This is a distinct contrast to the grand leaps and dives that earlier operas often depended on for emotional effect. La Bohème’s melodic structure perfectly captures the “small people” (as Puccini called them) of the drama and the details of everyday life.