Sung in Italian with projected English translation
Appropriate for all ages
2 hours and 15 minutes
Opera's greatest love story.
Join the bohemian revolution in the heart of Paris as groups of artists live life to the fullest, make art, and fall in love. A chance encounter on a winter night changes everything for Mimì and Rodolfo, sending them into a deep, romantic whirlwind that brings audiences opera's most beloved love story—Puccini's La bohème.
The return of this stunning production directed by John Caird tells the classic tale through scenic elements inspired by Marcello's paintings. Featuring some of opera's most famous music, La bohème brings to life the hope, thrill, and heartbreak of true love.
An Opera in Four Acts
Cast and Creative Team
||Federico De Michelis
|Benoit / Alcindoro
||Richard Trey Smagur
|Set & Costume
||Michael James Clark
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Richard Bado, Chorus Master
The Sarah and Ernest Butler Chorus Master Chair
Karen Reeves, Children's Chorus Director
*An alternate cast will perform on Sunday November 11.
A Co-Production of the Houston Grand Opera, Canadian Opera Company, and the San Francisco Opera.
It is Christmas Eve in Paris. Two poverty-stricken young artists, Marcello, a painter, and Rodolfo, a poet, attempt to work in their freezing garret; in desperation, they burn one of Rodolfo’s dramas to keep warm. Their two roommates, Colline, a philosopher, and Schaunard, a musician, return home. Even though Schaunard has brought food, the four bohemians decide to take their holiday dinner in the Latin Quarter. Just then, Benoît, their landlord, arrives to demand his overdue rent. The men ply him with drink, and when he boasts of marital indiscretions, they throw him out with feigned indignation. Marcello, Colline, and Schaunard leave for the Latin Quarter. Roldolfo promises to join them after finishing some work, but a knock on the door interrupts him. Mimì, a young neighbor, enters, wishing to relight her candle. Obviously ill, she nearly faints and drops her room key. Rodolfo is instantly attracted to her and manages to detain her by concealing the key. He snuffs out his own candle, and as the two search in the darkness for the “lost” key, their hands touch. Spontaneously, they pour out their love for one another before leaving to join Rodolfo’s friends.
A festive crowd celebrates Christmas Eve in the Latin Quarter. At the Café Momus, Rodolfo introduces Mimì to his roommates. Their carefree mood changes when Musetta, Marcello’s former lover, appears with Alcindoro, her elderly paramour. Musetta attempts to attract the attention of Marcello, who deliberately ignores her but ultimately cannot resist her charms. Musetta shrewdly gets rid of Alcindoro and instructs the waiter to give him the bill for everyone. She and her bohemian friends escape through the crowd.
Early one snowy February morning, Mimì seeks Marcello, who is painting a mural at a tavern near the city gates. She tells him she and Rodolfo have separated because of his jealousy. As Marcello tries to comfort her, Rodolfo arrives to speak with Marcello. Mimì conceals herself and overhears their conversation. Rodolfo tells Marcello he wants to leave Mimì because of her flirtatious behavior. Finally, he confesses that she is mortally ill and admits his guilty feelings: he knows that the harsh conditions of their life together have undoubtedly worsened her health. Mimì’s cough gives her away, and Rodolfo realizes she has overheard everything. The two lovers pledge to stay together until spring, but Marcello and Musetta argue viciously and separate.
Rodolfo and Marcello, now separated from Mimì and Musetta, are working in their garret. Schaunard and Colline arrive with supper, and the four fantasize about attending a fancy ball. Suddenly, Musetta enters with Mimì, who is near death and wants to be with Rodolfo. Musetta and Marcello leave to sell some of their possessions in order to buy Mimì a muff and to summon a doctor. Colline also departs to sell his beloved overcoat. Left alone for a few moments, Mimì and Rodolfo reminisce about happier times. The others return, but before the doctor can arrive, Mimì dies.
The performance will last approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, including one intermission.
HGO Performance History
La bohème was first presented at HGO during the 1957–58 season, with subsequent performances on the main stage during seasons 1963–64, 1968–69, 1974–75, 1981–82, 1985–86, 1991–92, 1995–96, 2002–03, and 2007–08. In addition, HGO’s former touring group, Texas Opera Theater (TOT), performed it during seasons 1980–81 and 1986–87. TOT’s production was staged for HGO’s Spring Opera Festival at Miller Outdoor Theatre in 1987.