Giacomo Puccini • March 30 and April 2, 5, 7, 2019
Set against the backdrop of 1830’s Paris, La bohème follows four impoverished artists surviving with little more than friendship, passion, and their love for their art. When Rodolfo, a poet, and Mimi, a young seamstress, meet, the two are drawn into a tumultuous and passionate affair with a love that can only be broken by death.
Emotional and dramatic, it’s no wonder Puccini’s most celebrated opera has transcended the genre, inspiring both a ballet and the Broadway hit musical RENT.
La bohème will make you laugh, and bring you to tears, with its timeless story and captivating music.
The Artistic Team
Conductor - Jean-Luc Tingaud
Stage Director - Stephanie Havey**
Scenic Designer - Michael Yeargan
Costume Designer - Zack Brown
Lighting Designer - Andrew Ostrowski
Stage Manager - Cindy Knight
Asst Stage Director - *Matthew Haney
Asst Stage Manager - Alex W. Seidel
Asst Stage Manager - Nick Garcia
Wig and Make-up Designer - James Geier
Asst Wig and Make-up Desiger - Nicole Pagano
Asst Lighting Designer - Todd Nonn
Prop Master - Johnmichael Bohach
Asst Conductor - Glenn Lewis
Chorus Master - Mark Trawka
Associate Coach/Pianist - James Lesniak
Production originated at San Francisco Opera.
+ Pittsburgh Opera debut
* Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist
** Pittsburgh Opera Resident Artist alumni
ACT I. In their Latin Quarter garret on Christmas Eve, the painter Marcello and poet Rodolfo try to keep warm by burning pages from Rodolfo's latest drama. They are joined by their comrades—Colline, a young philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician who has landed a job and brings food, fuel, and funds (Legna! . . . Sigari!). While they celebrate their unexpected fortune, the landlord, Benoit, arrives to collect the rent. Plying the older man with wine, they urge him to tell of his flirtations, then throw him out in mock indignation. As the friends depart for a celebration at the nearby Café Momus, Rodolfo promises to join them soon, staying behind to finish writing an article. There’s another knock; a neighbor, Mimì, says her candle has gone out on the drafty stairs. Offering her wine when she feels faint, Rodolfo relights her candle and helps her to the door. Mimì realizes she has dropped her key, and as the two search for it, both candles are blown out. In the moonlight the poet takes the girl's shivering hand (Che gelida manina "What a cold little hand") telling her his dreams. She then recounts her solitary life (Sì, mi chiamano Mimì "Yes, they call me Mimì"), embroidering flowers and waiting for spring. Drawn to each other, Mimì and Rodolfo leave for the café (O soave fanciulla "Oh lovely girl").
ACT II. Amid shouts of street hawkers, Rodolfo buys Mimì a bonnet near the Café Momus and introduces her to his friends. They all sit and order supper. A toy vendor, Parpignol, passes by, besieged by children. Marcello's former lover, Musetta, enters on the arm of the elderly, wealthy Alcindoro. Trying to regain the painter's attention, she sings a waltz about her popularity (Quando me’n vo “When I walk out”). Complaining that her shoe pinches, Musetta sends Alcindoro to fetch a new pair, then falls into Marcello's arms. The Bohemians leave Alcindoro to face the bill when he returns.
ACT III. At dawn on the snowy outskirts of Paris, a Customs Officer admits farm women to the city. Musetta and revelers are heard inside a tavern. Soon Mimì walks by, searching for the place where the reunited Marcello and Musetta now live. When the painter emerges, she pours out her distress over Rodolfo's incessant jealousy (Mimì! . . . Speravo di trovarvi qui). It is best they part, she says. Rodolfo, who has been asleep in the tavern, is heard, and Mimì hides; Marcello thinks she has left. The poet tells Marcello he wants to separate from his fickle sweetheart. Pressed further, he breaks down, saying Mimì is dying; her ill health can only worsen in the poverty they share. Overcome, Mimì stumbles forward to bid her lover farewell (Addio . . . D'onde lieta uscì al tuo grido) as Marcello runs back into the tavern to investigate Musetta's raucous laughter. While Mimì and Rodolfo recall their happiness, Musetta quarrels with Marcello (Dunque è proprio finite). The painter and his mistress part in fury, but Mimì and Rodolfo decide to stay together until spring.
ACT IV. Some months later, Rodolfo and Marcello lament their loneliness in the garret (O Mimì, tu più non torni). Colline and Schaunard bring a meager meal. The four stage a dance, which turns into a mock fight. The merrymaking is ended when Musetta bursts in, saying Mimì is downstairs, too weak to climb up. As Rodolfo runs to her, Musetta tells how Mimì has begged to be taken to her lover to die. While Mimì is made comfortable, Marcello goes with Musetta to sell her earrings for medicine, and Colline leaves to pawn his cherished overcoat (Vecchia zimarra "Old coat"). Alone, Mimì and Rodolfo recall their first days together (Sono andati? "Have they gone?"), but she is seized with coughing. When the others return, Musetta gives Mimì a muff to warm her hands and prays for her life. Mimì dies quietly (Dorme? . . . Riposa), and when Schaunard discovers she is dead, Rodolfo runs to her side, calling her name.
-Courtesy of Opera News
We want you to have the best experience possible at our performances!
- Run time: 2 hours and 27 minutes including two intermissions
- Understand Every Word: La Bohème is sung in Italian, but has English supertitles projected above the stage at all performances
- Be sure to download the La Bohème study guide
- Parking Downtown: get real-time parking availability
- Pre-Opera Talks before each performance
- Audio Description available at The Benedum Center
- Braille Programs available at The Benedum Center
- Large-Print Programs available at The Benedum Center
Listen to Pittsburgh Opera General Director Christopher Hahn give a brief synopsis of La Bohème featuring excerpts from this 1972 Decca recording with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra:
Click play below or download these excerpts for an offline treat!
- “Questo mar rosso”- performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
- “Legna!”- sung by Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo and Rolando Panerai as Marcello
- “Che gelida manina”- sung by Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo
- “Mi chiamano Mimi”- sung by Mirella Freni as Mimi
- “O soave fanciulla”- sung by Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo and Mirella Freni as Mimi
- “Quando me’n vo”- sung by Elizabeth Harwood as Musetta
- “Mimi!”- sung by Mirella Freni as Mimi
- “D'onde lieta uscì al tuo grido”- sung by Mirella Freni as Mimi
- “Dunque è propio finita!”- sung by Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo, Mirella Freni as Mimi, Elizabeth Harwood as Musetta, and Rolando Panerai as Marcello
- “O Mimì, tu più non torni”- sung by Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo and Rolando Panerai as Marcello
- “Sono Andati?”- sung by Mirella Freni as Mimi
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust has implemented new security and bag policies, effective starting October 1, 2016, at the Benedum Center and their other venues.