Friday, September 03, 2010

Giacomo Puccini's "La bohème"

Last night, GH and I watched the bohemians live it up in their garret, in the opera loosely based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger. I thought the plot was a little wonky in the middle, and then learned from Wikipedia that Puccini decided not to put to music a missing scene by the librettists.

Rodolfo the poet fell in love with Mimi the seamstress, but she died in the end of sickness. Rodolfo's comrade Marcello, a painter, was in love with Musetta, a singer, but she wanted independence and wealth, both of which Marcello could not give her. She turned out to possess a heart of gold when she helped the dying Mimi return to Rodolfo's garret, and bought the dying woman the hand muffs she had always wanted. The plot was even more sentimental than what one would expect of opera. It lacked the philosophical sweetness of Der Rosenkavalier and the psychological complexity of Les contes d'Hoffman.

I don't have the program with me, and I cannot remember the names of the singers. Rodolfo was quite wonderful, what one imagines of an Italian tenor: ample face and figure; powerful and tender voice. Mimi looked a little simple-minded, if not slightly crazed, in her first scenes. I like Musetta's singing better. The production, by Franco Zeffirelli, was beautiful.

The night was humid, though it cooled slightly as a breeze wafted in and out of the plaza. Plane lights streaked the night like a steady comet. GH and I finished a bottle of Gruner Veltliner. I loved putting my arm round his shoulder and drawing him close to me.

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