Puccini - La boheme

Act I

Christmas Eve, a garret

The painter Marcello and poet Rodolfo try to keep warm by burning pages from Rodolfo’s latest drama. They are joined by Colline, a philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician who has made some money and brings food and drink. The landlord arrives to collect the rent. Plying him with wine, they urge him to tell of his flirtations, and then throw him out in mock moral indignation. Everyone except Rodolfo goes to the Café Momus. His writing is interrupted by a neighbour, Mimì, who is feeling ill. She drops her key, and the two search for it in the dark. When Rodolfo touches her hand he feels how cold she is. They are drawn to each other as he tells her of his life as a poet, she as a maker of artificial flowers. She accepts his invitation to join his friends at the café.

Act II

Moments later, at the Café Momus

Rodolfo introduces Mimì to his friends. Marcello’s former lover, Musetta, enters with her new boyfriend. She tries to make Marcello jealous by describing the effect of her allure on other men. Musetta sends her wealthy companion on a fictitious errand and then falls into Marcello’s arms. The friends leave the bill to be paid by Musetta’s discarded suitor on his return.


Late winter, at the Barriere d’Enfer

Marcello has accepted a painting job at a bar in the city. Musetta is heard inside the bar as he works. Mimì arrives looking for Marcello and describes Rodolfo’s jealousy. She has decided that they should part. Rodolfo emerges from the bar and Mimì hides; Marcello thinks she has left. Rodolfo tells Marcello he wants to leave Mimì. After complaining of her disloyalty he admits the real reason for his decision: she is dying of tuberculosis, and Rodolfo feels that her only chance of survival is to leave him and find shelter with a wealthy patron. Mimì reveals herself. Marcello runs back into the bar to investigate Musetta’s raucous laughter. While Mimì and Rodolfo remember happier times together, Musetta quarrels with Marcello. Mimì and Rodolfo decide to stay together — but only until spring arrives.

Act IV

In spring, at the garret

Rodolfo and Marcello are dissatisfied and uninspired: Mimì and Musetta have left them. Colline and Schaunard arrive with a meagre meal. Musetta bursts in, saying Mimì is downstairs, too weak to climb up. Mimì has begged Musetta to take her to Rodolfo to die. While Mimì is made comfortable, Marcello goes with Musetta to sell her valuables for medicine, and Colline leaves to pawn his coat. Mimì and Rodolfo recall their first days together. The friends return. Mimì dies quietly.

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