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Leoncavallo
La Bohème
Opera in 4 acts. (1897)
Libretto by the composer.
English version by Patrick Redmond.

SYNOPSIS
(The story is roughly similar to that of the Puccini version, with the exception of Act II which deals with an incident from the Murger novel. This act provides strong choral opportunities, exceeding those offered by Puccini.)

The four Bohemians meet at the Cafe Momus to celebrate Christmas Eve. Mimi, mistress to Rodolphe the poet, introduces Musette with whom Marcel (the painter) falls immediately in love. The group eat heartily but are unable to pay their bill. Salvation comes in the form of Barbemuche, an intellectual, who offers to pay. The Bohemians are suspicious but Schaunard (the composer) suggests a game of billiards to settle the matter. Schaunard wins and the cafe proprietor gets his money. Several months later, Musette is evicted from her apartment following a row with her rich lover. A party has been arranged which now has to take place in the courtyard. Guests arrive and all goes well until the neighbours complain about the noise. During the ensuing riot, Mimi steals away with a new lover, the Viscomte Paul. Some months later the Bohemians have fallen on hard times. Musette writes a letter telling Marcel that she is leaving him. Mimi appears wanting to rejoin Rodolphe. Marcel learns of Musette’s plans and blames Mimi. Rodolphe rejects Mimi’s pleas to have her back. It is Christmas Eve again and Marcel and Rodolphe are sad at the loss of their women. Mimi climbs the stairs exhausted and very weak. The Viscomte has thrown her out and she has been discharged from hospital prematurely. Musette arrives and offers to pawn her jewellery to pay for medicine. But it is too late: Mimi dies in Rodolphe’s arms.


Details available on request

Orchestration

Cafe Momus
Courtyard of Musette’s apartment
Marcel’s Attic
Rodolphe’s Attic


Act One:

Act Two:

Act Three:
Act Four:

Settings

Guests, tenants, etc (SSATTBB) 25%

Chorus

Euphemie (mezzo-soprano)
Passer-by (tenor)
Viscomte Paul (baritone)
Apothecary (tenor)

Gaudence (tenor)
Barbemuche (bass)
Concierge (baritone)
Ferrand (baritone)

Lesser Roles

Mimi (soprano)
Musette (mezzo-soprano)
Colline (baritone)

Schaunard (baritone)

Marcel (tenor)
Rodolphe (baritone)

Major Roles