Bohème, La(ii) (‘Bohemian Life’)
- Jürgen Maehder
Commedia lirica in four acts by ruggero Leoncavallo to his own libretto after henry Murger ’ novel Scènes de la vie de bohème; Venice, Teatro La Fenice, 6 May 1897 (revised version, Mimì Pinson, Palermo, Teatro Massimo, 14 April 1913).
On Christmas eve a group of artists – Marcello, a painter (tenor), Rodolfo, a poet (baritone), Schaunard, a musician (baritone), and Gustavo Colline, a philosopher (baritone) – meet in the Café Momus, but the proprietor Gaudenzio (tenor) is uneasy about their presence. Musetta (mezzo-soprano) and Mimì (soprano) arrive, and Musetta is introduced by Mimì’s waltz aria ‘Musetta svaria sulla bocca viva’; later, Musetta answers with the waltz ‘Mimì Pinson, la biondinetta’. The friends are unable to pay their bill, and a quarrel with the café staff ensues. Barbemuche (bass) offers to help the artists, and honour is satisfied by a game of billiards. In Act 2, some months later, Musetta’s lover discovers the attachment she has formed to Marcello, and she is forced to leave her house. Guests arriving for a party remain in the courtyard, and their chorus ‘Inno della bohème’, along with Marcello’s cantata ‘L’influenza del blue sulle arti’ and Musetta’s aria ‘Da quel suon soavemente’, bring angry reactions from neighbours. In the ensuing fight the Viscount Paolo (baritone) leaves with Rodolfo’s girlfriend Mimì. In Act 3, set in Marcello’s garret the following autumn, Mimì returns to Rodolfo in an attempt at reconciliation; there she meets Musetta, who is about to leave Marcello. Marcello reacts violently, especially when he realizes that Mimì is present. Rodolfo is summoned and angrily tells Mimì to leave. Marcello’s desperate aria ‘Musette! O gioia della mia dimora’ ends the act. In the final act Rodolfo is writing a poem (‘Scuoti o vento fra i sibili’) when Marcello and Schaunard arrive. Mimì returns to see Rodolfo for the last time, homeless after her separation from the viscount, and dies of tuberculosis to the sound of Christmas choruses offstage....