There is perhaps nothing more straightforward than La Bohème: a young man and a young woman meet, fall in love, are separated by life and then reunited again before the ultimate separation. It takes place in Paris, an eternally Bohemian Paris, as legendary as it is real. Out of this simplicity springs something miraculous: an irrepressible and ever-new emotion. Puccini filled La Bohème with unforgettable images: Mimi, muse-like, entering the poet’s room, a candle in her hand… the lover’s moonlight duet, the brightly-lit grand café, the impossible farewells in the freezing morning, and finally, death on a shabby bed. But these places are just as equally realms within ourselves: his café Momus is the very whirlwind of existence, his Barrière d’Enfer is the frightening barrenness of the heart: La Bohème evokes the things which haunt us all: the love which blazes and transports us to heaven, the fleeting nature of youth, and all-destroying time. In 1896, Puccini still had numerous masterpieces ahead of him. But he would probably never again achieve the clarity and splendour of melody whose every phrase touches us and is engraved in our hearts from the moment we first hear it.
Opéra Bastille - First performance on 30 November 2014 - 2:30PM
Ticket rates : 5€, 15€, 35€, 70€, 100€, 130€, 150€, 180€, 195€
6, 13 Dec 5€, 15€, 38€, 77€, 110€, 143€, 165€, 198€, 214€
15 Dec 5€, 15€, 28€, 56€, 80€, 104€, 120€, 144€, 156€
Running time : 2H32 with one interval
LIBRETTO BY GIUSEPPE GIACOSA AND LUIGI ILLICA
|Jonathan Miller||Stage director|
|José Luis Basso||Choruses master|
Ana Maria Martinez
Simone Del Savio
COPRODUCTION with thE TEATRO COMUNALE, FLORENCE
(A) from 30 NOVEMBer to 13 DeCEMBer
(B) from 15 to 30 DeCEMBer
The composerGiacomo Puccini was born in 1858 in Lucca to a family of organists (his father was a theorist and celebrated professor). In 1876 he attended a performance of Verdi’s Aïda in Pisa, an event which would decide his future as a composer. He studied at the Milan conservatoire where his teachers included Ponchielli. In 1882 he took part in a one-act opera competition with Le Villi. While he did not win first prize, the opera was performed in 1884 in Milan and attracted the attention of the publisher Ricordi who commissioned a new work, Edgar. His third opera, Manon Lescaut, was a success and marked the beginning of a series of fruitful collaborations with the librettists Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, who worked with him on his three next operas (La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly). These were followed by La Rondine and Il Trittico, an opera in three independent acts. In 1924 he began his last opera, Turandot, which remained unfinished (the last two scenes were completed by Franco Alfano). Puccini died in Brussels in 1924. His compositions also include several religious works (Salve regina, Messa di Gloria). Considered one of the main proponents of verismo opera, which was an extension of naturalism in literature, Puccini stands out for the refinement of his musical writing and his rejection of the brutality which so often characterizes the movement.
The workOpera in four scenes. The libretto is an adaptation of Mürger’s Scènes de la vie de bohème, which appeared in serial form in the Parisian magazine Le Corsaire, between 1845 and 1849, and was presented shortly after in a stage version co-written by Théodore Barrière at the Théâtre des Variétés. As in the play, Puccini and his librettists, Giacosa and Illica, condense two of Mürger’s characters to create the fragile figure of Mimi, who, along with her lover, Rodolfo, takes centre stage. But besides the depiction of a group of picturesque characters (with the contrast of a “tragic” couple, Rodolfo/Mimi, and a “comic” couple, Marcello/ Musetta) and a way of life which reminded him of the one he had known when he was at the conservatory, the composer sought to portray a city with a thousand details and impressionistic touches. His success is attested to by Debussy’s reaction at its creation: “I know of nobody who has described the Paris of those days so well as Puccini in La Bohème”.
The first performanceThe opera was first performed on 1st February 1896 at the Teatro Regio in Turin.
The first performance in Paris, under the title of La Vie de bohème and in a French version by Paul Ferrier, was on 13th June 1898 at the Théâtre Lyrique de la Place du Châtelet, where the Opéra-Comique had taken refuge after a fire at the Salle Favart.
The work at the Paris OperaAfter 1496 performances of the same production at the Opéra Comique (decors by Lucien Jusseaume), the work entered the repertoire at the Palais Garnier in 1973, in the original version, in a production by Gian Carlo Menotti with decors by Pier Luigi Samaritani. It was revived many times up to 1986. Amongst others, Carlo Cossutta, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Giacomo Aragall appeared successively in the role of Rodolfo; Katia Ricciarelli, Mirella Freni, Kiri Te Kanawa and Ileana Cotrubas in that of Mimi; Aldo Ceccato, Julius Rudel, Giuseppe Patane, Nello Santi and Alain Lombard alternated at the rostrum.
La Bohème was presented at the Opéra Bastille for the first time in December 1995 and was conducted by James Conlon with, alternately, Roberto Alagna and Roberto Aronica (Rodolfo) and Leontina Vaduva and Cristina Gallardo-Domas (Mimi). It is this production, already performed in 1996, 1999, 2001, 2003 and last season that is being revived today.