Last night, I went to “The Metropolitan Opera: La Bohème ENCORE” with my mom yesterday. Ever since I heard of this opera I wanted to see it so much. That was because of my love for the musical Rent, which is based off of La Bohème. That is why I did not need to do too much research about the show when I saw it yesterday. I was aware that La Bohème was going to be similar to Rent, but at the same time I know things were going to be different.
La Bohème is the tragic love story between Mimi and Rodolfo in France during the 1830s. It was a time when France was blossoming with the arts and love. The characters in this Opera celebrate the Bohemian lifestyle. Even disease and poverty are relevant to France in this time period. All of the main characters also are some kind of artist. They range from seamstress to painter to poet to philosopher to musician. Another love story is part of this opera, which is between Musetta and Marcello, but the story is really about Rodolfo and Mimi.
Later on in the Opera, we learn about Mimi’s poor health, which is what will make the love story tragic. At this point, Rodolfo wants to separate from Mimi because he is scared to be in a relationship with her because of her illness. However, Mimi convinces him to stay in the relationship and Rodolfo agrees because their love for each other is so strong. The show ends with Mimi dying, but gets to die surrounded by friends and next door to Rodolfo.
I loved this Opera. The sets and staging was just incredible. The artist’s loft was incredible, which was where Rodolfo, Marcello, Colline, and Schaunard live. It reflects the poverty that the four are struggling with. The sets also reflect the town where the show takes places, which is where Rodolfo buys presents for Mimi and the cafe where all the main characters hang out. The set was also incredible outside of a tavern, and the snow looked so real. The main set is really the garret where the characters live, which was the highlight of the different sets.
The acting was truly incredible especially on Mimi. That is due to the fact that there was a scramble the day before. It was just learned that the actress who usually plays Mimi fell ill and they needed a replacement fast. They ended up using an actress who just played Butterfly the day before. In less then a day, that actress had to learn everything from staging to costume fitting to music. She had to have played the part before in order to remember everything. The fact that she was able to go from two different plots in just a short period of time is hard to believe. Even the other leads were incredible especially Rodolfo and Musetta. Musetta was so crazy and funny and even loved how she was so nice to Mimi on her deathbed.
Even the songs were beautiful. The ones I loved the most were the ones sung between Mimi and Rodolfo. I think the love the two have for each other is one of the biggest reasons why La Bohème is one of the most famous Operas ever. If it wasn’t for Rent, I never would have interested in seeing this Opera in the first place. I never would have discovered the Opera or have wanted to actually see one. Throughout the show, I kept on finding references from Rent. Each opened up on Christmas Eve, Mimi and Rodolfo met in a similar way that Mimi and Roger met, the scene at the end of act 2 in La Bohème is similar to the end of act 1 in Rent, the whole parrot incident is similar to the incident of the dog, there is a scene in La Bohème that is similar to Goodbye Love in Rent, which is when Rodolfo and Marcello are arguing with Mimi listening to everything they are saying, there are similar relationship struggles between Rodolfo and Mimi and Mimi and Roger. Understanding Rent allowed me to understand La Bohème. Even character names are similar.
Just by seeing La Bohème, I was able to pick up on differences between Opera and musical. The two are very similar, but still are portrayed quite similar. In Opera, actors are singing without the help of a microphone, but in musicals the actors sing with help. Even the sounds and styles of singing are different.Even the language is different because Opera are always sung by the language the show was initially written in. Unlike musicals, Operas have a reputation for being tragic. Just through La Bohème, I can already see how differently tragedies are portrayed. In tragic opera, death scenes take even longer because in La Bohème, Mimi’s death scene takes an entire act. In musicals, death scenes don’t take as long. Most musical deaths are quick, but some are drawn out, but not quite as drawn out as Opera.