La Bohème

La Bohème

The aria’s in your head but you don’t know from what opera? Hmmm. And you’d like to know so you can play it back? How about starting with (perhaps) the most famous opera, Puccini’s La Bohème.

There are four memorable arias: three in Act 1; and one in Act 2.

Act 1

Set in Latin Quarter of Paris (1830s); four artists living in garret not exactly flush with cash: Rodolfo poet; Marcello painter; Schaunard musician; Colline philospher; The stove is out (no fuel). Will Rodolfo sacrifice Act 1 of his play to restart it? And Marcello donate his painting? Cruel choices, eh. There is some larking around, hoodwinking the landlord when he arrives for the rent. Rodolfo stays back when the other three go to Café Momus.

A knock on the door. A woman’s voice (Mimi): “My candle’s gone out”. True Gent Rodolfo obliges; but a gust of wind blows out both candles; total darkness; Mimi divulges she has dropped her key; Rodolfo finds and pockets it (to prolong the encounter; clever dude); their hands meet in the darkness:

Which leads into Aria 2 (Mimi telling about herself):

Hey presto, they are madly in love. But it’s the 1830s, so even a peck on the cheek is out of the question. Before exiting to meet the others:

Good crowd at Café Momus. Enter Musetta, a young Parisian. She loves nobody better than, yep, herself (and older guys with lucre!).

When I walk alone on the street people stop and stare at me;
And everyone looks at my beauty, looks at me from head to foot.

You gotta like her, no?

That’s it. Bite-sized highlights from La Bohéme.

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