‘La jeunesse n’a qu’un temps (youth comes only once)’ wrote the poet Henri Murger in 1862. Thirty-four years later, Puccini took his inspiration from Murger’s Scènes de la vie de bohème in composing La Bohème. The story of the four young artists and their sweethearts, and their loves and struggles, would become the model for the romantic image of bohemian life that still prevails.
The opera does not tell a traditionally structured story, but creates a certain atmosphere in four scenes. It is not a chronicle so much as an evocation. An evocation in snapshots of the lives of four young artists and their sweethearts. Rodolfo, the poet and his girlfriend Mimi, Marcello, the painter and his Musetta, Schaunard, the composer and Colline, the philosopher. A group of creative spirits who live each moment as if it’s the most intense and unique experience of their lives. Euphoria and deep anguish are never far apart. The end of the opera, with the death of Mimi, also spells the end for this unique time of life. Representing this type of snapshot, the finitude of this unique, breathless moment calls for a new opera form. It is the atmosphere in the different scenes that determines the musical structure. The score is a perfect osmosis of realism, comedy and romance.
Length: ca. 2h20 incl. interval Language: Italian with Dutch surtitles