La Boheme

Original 1896 poster by Adolfo Hohenstein

La Boheme – the Bohemian Girl

This is the famous Zeffirelli production, with over 200 people on stage in Act II.

Is This a Good Opera to Attend?

One of the greatest operas ever written and, certainly, in my humble opinion, the greatest portrayal of young love in any art form.
If you have never seen Boheme performed at the Met this is a great opportunity, with a young, attractive cast adding reality to the tale of love and loss among Paris artists in the 19th Century.

The Storyline

La Boheme translates as the Bohemian girl, who is named Mimi in the opera. She meets a starving young poet named Rodolfo in Act I. They each sing a beautiful aria telling about themselves and then follow this up with a rapturous love duet.

This being opera, however, there has to be some unhappiness involved. Mimi and Rodolfo break up. They reconcile in Act III and then break up again. Mimi comes back to Rodolfo at the end of the opera and dies of consumption.

About the Music

I have seen and heard this opera many, many times and I never fail to be moved by it. In recent years there has been more stress in world opera houses to find singers who can not only sing the parts of Mimi and Rodolfo but can also portray them realistically on the stage.
The Met will be offering several different casts for Boheme this season. They should all be good, but some may be better than others.

La Traviata – The Fallen Woman

Poster for the world premiere of La Traviata

The Fallen Woman or La Traviata

La Traviata (Italian: The Fallen Woman) is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave.

It is based on La Dame aux Camélias (1852), a play adapted from the novel by Alexander Dumas, fils.”The opera was originally titled Violetta, after the main character.

It was first performed on 6 March 1853 at the La Fenice opera house in Venice.” ~ Source Wikipedia

The Story

The plot of La Traviata is fairly straightforward. Violetta is a courtesan (a polite way of calling her a high-priced cal girl). She meets and fals in love with the tenor, Alfredo. They go off to live blissfully (for a while) together in the country. But Alfredo’s father shows up and tells Violetta that by living openly with Alfredo she is ruining the chances of Alfredo’s sister for a successful marriage. After a beautiful duet Germont, Alfredo’s father, wears Violetta down and she agrees to leave Alfredo.

But Alfredo does not know why she has made this sacrifice and turns against Violetta and denounces her before a crowd of people in Act III.

They are finally reconciled at the end of Act IV when Violetta is already dying from that favorite of operatic diseases, consumption (TB).

Is This a Good Opera to Attend?

La Traviata today is one of Verdi’s most popular operas and it is likely that some of the music will be quite familiar to you.

In fact, I would say that La Traviata has some of the most beautiful and accessible music in all of opera.

But at the time of it’s world premiere the opera was not immediately as successful as many of Verdi’s earlier works.

This was mainly because Traviata was set in a period only a few years earlier than the operas composition.

Opera audiences were used to seeing operas set in ancient or historical periods and were jolted to see an opera in a present-day setting.

Many people remember the Great Garbo/Robert Taylor movie Camille, from 1936, which shows up on TV from time to time. This is the same story as La Traviata.

I myself much prefer the musical version by Verdi.