La bohème

La bohème
Opera by Giacomo Puccini
La Boheme poster by Hohenstein.PNG
Original 1896 poster by Adolfo Hohenstein
Librettist
LanguageItalian
Based onHenri Murger's Scènes de la vie de bohème
Premiere
1 February 1896 (1896-02-01)

La bohème (French pronunciation: ​[la bɔ.ɛm], Italian: [la boˈɛm]) is an opera in four acts,[N 1] composed by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger.[1] The world premiere of La bohème was in Turin on 1 February 1896 at the Teatro Regio,[2] conducted by the 28-year-old Arturo Toscanini; its U.S. premiere took place the following year, 1897, in Los Angeles. Since then, La bohème has become part of the standard Italian opera repertory and is one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide.[3]

In 1946, fifty years after the opera's premiere, Toscanini conducted a commemorative performance of it on radio with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. A recording of the performance was later released by RCA Victor on vinyl record, tape and compact disc. It is the only recording ever made of a Puccini opera by its original conductor (see Recording history below).

Origin of the story

Mimì's costume for act 1 of La bohème designed by Adolfo Hohenstein for the world premiere

According to its title page, the libretto of La bohème is based on Henri Murger's novel, Scènes de la vie de bohème, a collection of vignettes portraying young bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s. Although usually called a novel, it has no unified plot. Like the 1849 play by Murger and Théodore Barrière, the opera's libretto focuses on the relationship between Rodolfo and Mimì, ending with her death. Also like the play, the libretto combines two characters from the novel, Mimì and Francine, into the single character of Mimì. Early in the composition stage Puccini was in dispute with the composer Leoncavallo, who said that he had offered Puccini a completed libretto and felt that Puccini should defer to him. Puccini responded that he had had no idea of Leoncavallo's interest and that having been working on his own version for some time, he felt that he could not oblige him by discontinuing with the opera. Leoncavallo completed his own version in which Marcello was sung by a tenor and Rodolfo by a baritone. It was unsuccessful and is now rarely performed.[4]

Rodolfo—costume design by Adolfo Hohenstein for the premiere at Teatro Regio, 1896

Much of the libretto is original. The main plots of acts two and three are the librettists' invention, with only a few passing references to incidents and characters in Murger. Most of acts one and four follow the novel, piecing together episodes from various chapters. The final scenes in acts one and four—the scenes with Rodolfo and Mimì—resemble both the play and the novel. The story of their meeting closely follows chapter 18 of the novel, in which the two lovers living in the garret are not Rodolphe and Mimì at all, but rather Jacques and Francine. The story of Mimì's death in the opera draws from two different chapters in the novel, one relating Francine's death and the other relating Mimì's.[1]

The published libretto includes a note from the librettists briefly discussing their adaptation. Without mentioning the play directly, they defend their conflation of Francine and Mimì into a single character: "Chi può non confondere nel delicato profilo di una sola donna quelli di Mimì e di Francine?" ("Who cannot confuse in the delicate profile of one woman the personality both of Mimì and of Francine?"). At the time, the novel was in the public domain, Murger having died without heirs, but rights to the play were still controlled by Barrière's heirs.[5]

Other Languages
azərbaycanca: Bohema
български: Бохеми
català: La Bohème
Cymraeg: La bohème
dansk: La Bohème
Deutsch: La Bohème
eesti: Boheem
Esperanto: La Bohème
euskara: La bohème
فارسی: لا بوهم
français: La Bohème
galego: La Bohème
한국어: 라 보엠
հայերեն: Բոհեմ (օպերա)
hrvatski: La bohème
italiano: La bohème
עברית: לה בוהם
Latina: La Bohème
lietuvių: Bohema (opera)
magyar: Bohémélet
Bahasa Melayu: La bohème
Nederlands: La bohème (opera)
norsk: La bohème
polski: Cyganeria
português: La Bohème
română: La bohème
Scots: La bohème
shqip: La bohème
Simple English: La bohème
slovenščina: La bohème
српски / srpski: Боеми (опера)
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: La bohème
suomi: La bohème
Türkçe: La bohème
українська: Богема (опера)
Tiếng Việt: La Bohème (Puccini)