Being an artist is the belief that unites the poet Rodolfo, painter Marcello, musician Schaunard and philosopher Colline – a delicate balance between the reality of survival and escape into bohemian world they have created for themselves where art is not what one does but simply how one lives. However, when a young woman arrives who is fatally ill, reality assumes an irresistible power…
In ‘La Bohème’, Giacomo Puccini (1858 –1924) succeeded in transforming emotions into sounds and melodies in a unique way while also achieving the precise depiction of a fictional subculture. While the initial scenes focus on the relaxed amusement and gentle lyricism of falling in love, the entry of disaster is all the more emphatic and shows that behind every life death always remains omnipresent.
Philipp Westerbarkei has proven to be one of the most interesting directors of the young generation with his first productions at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein and Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’ at Theater Coburg in 2018.
Rodolfo once loved Lucia, known to everyone as Mimì. But this love was a harmful one. Cared for by a doctor, and torn between the impossibility of forgetting and a yearning to remember, he attempts to reconstruct her story. However, reality, fantasy and madness become increasingly intertwined. The characters of the drama come to life …
Christmas Eve. Rodolfo and Marcello are looking around for inspiration. To banish the cold, Rodolfo sets fire to sections of his play. Colline warns against the destruction. Surprisingly, Schaunard has come up with money: a rich lord has paid him to murder a parrot. The evening seems to been saved.
Rodolfo refuses to let disturb his writing ...
Benoît demands the rent he is owed for the last quarter. Rodolfo, Marcello, Schaunard and Colline succeed in getting him to admit an adulterous affair – and throw him out without paying him.
Rodolfo is interrupted once again. Lucia comes to visit him. He reads her his play about how they met: she stood outside his door asking for a light, lost her key – they fell in love ...
An old postcard of Paris in the winter of 1896 brings back new memories for Rodolfo.
A Christmas market. The friends celebrate in their inimitable style: in high spirits they invest Schaunard’s money in crazy clothes and treat themselves at Café Momus. Rodolfo introduces Mimì as “Poetry”. Musetta disgraces her rich lover Alcindoro and ends up back in the arms of her ex-boyfriend Marcello. The celebrations continue.
Chaos rules in Rodolfo’s mind. His imagination has run out of control.
Rodolfo is sleeping. The muffled sounds of the city can be heard in the room. The characters of the play have overpowered their author.
Marcello is climbing the walls because Musetta prostitutes herself. Mimì tells him that Rodolfo has left her out of jealousy. Marcello advises her to break up with him.
Rodolfo wakes up. Mimì must die.
Rodolfo tells Marcello that Mimì has another lover but then admits that she is sick and that he cannot offer her any better life. That is why he has left her. Mimì listens in on their conversation, but she gives herself away by trying to escape. They say farewell to each other while Musetta and Marcello argue.
Rodolfo and Marcello have finally split up with Mimì and Musetta and now torture each other with the latest gossip about both women. Together with Colline and Schaunard, they attempt to hide their misery beneath a party mood.
Rodolfo finally attempts to complete his play.
Musetta tells them that Mimì is dying. Everyone wants to help but they are all helpless.
It becomes clear to Rodolfo that his memories of the love they shared cannot save Mimì. His thoughts go wild.
Opera in Four Scenes
Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica after ‘Scènes de la Vie de Bohème’ by Henri Murger
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