La Boheme synopsis

ACT 1: A PARISIAN GARRET, CHRISTMAS EVE
In their freezing Latin Quarter garret, the near-destitute painter Marcello and poet Rodolfo try to keep warm by burning manuscripts. They are joined by their roommates the philosopher Colline and the musician Schaunard who arrive with food, fuel and funds. Close on their heels is the landlord Benoit, chasing the back rent. With a flurry of flattery and copious amounts of wine, he is ejected empty-handed. The friends depart for the cafe Momus, Rodolfo promising to join them later. There is a knock at the door - it is the seamstress from next door, Mimi, whose candle has gone out. In one of the most beautiful and famous sequences in all opera, the two fall in love and leave for Cafe Momus, arm in arm in the moonlight.

ACT 2 : THE CAFE MOMUS, CHRISTMAS EVE
Amid a bustling festive street crowd Rodolfo and Mimi arrive at the cafe, where Mimi is introduced to all. The toy vendor Parpignol passes by followed by a crowd of eager children. Marcello’s former girlfriend Musetta arrives on the arm of an elderly admirer Alcindoro. Successfully enraging Marcello she eventually falls into his arms while Alcondoro is off buying a new pair of shoes for her. She charges the entire dinner to the old man and everyone marches off happily to the sound of a passing military band.

ACT 3: DAWN AT THE GATES D’ENFER ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF PARIS - SOME MONTHS LATER
Mimi is searching for Marcello and when she finds him pours out her distress at Rodolfo’s behaviour. She thinks it best they part. Rodolfo, who has been asleep in the tavern arrives. Mimi overhears Rodolfo tell Marcello that he and Mimi should part - pressed he says it is because her bad cough is getting worse because of their poverty. Marcello rushes off to investigate Musetta’s promiscuous laughter in the tavern. Mimi stumbles forward to bid her lover farewell. While Marcello and Musetta have a furious domestic, Rodolfo and Mimi decide to stay together until the spring.

ACT 4: THE GARRET, SPRING
Rodolfo and Marcello lament their separation from their sweethearts. Colline and Schaunard arrive with a meagre meal - the four friends’ amusement is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Musetta, who says Mimi is below, too weak to climb the stairs. She wants to be with Rodolfo as she fears she is dying. Marcello is despatched to fetch a doctor from the proceeds of Musetta’s earrings and Colline’s coat.

Alone Mimi and Rodolfo wistfully recall their love affair: while Rodolfo is distracted adjusting the curtain, Mimi quietly dies, leaving Rodolfo and his friends bereft.

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