La bohème

Album: La bohème (1896)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • La bohème is an opera in four acts by Giacomo Puccini. The Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa is based on the Henry Murger novel Scènes de la vie de Bohème.
  • When Puccini was composing the music for La bohème, he learned that a rival composer, Leoncavallo, was working on a similar project. Puccini declared: "Let him compose. I will compose. The audience will decide." Puccini them wrote with an urgent speed, completing his opera a year before Leoncavallo's now all but forgotten work.
  • La bohème was premiered in Turin on February 1, 1896 at the Teatro Regio. Though the initial response of the critics was mixed, the work quickly became popular throughout Italy and productions were soon mounted by a number of opera companies.
  • La bohème tells the tragic love story of seamstress Mimi and poet Rodolpho in 1830s Paris. Unlike earlier operas, with their 'larger-than-life' characters, the work portrays the gritty realism of ordinary people's everyday struggles. La boheme proved that opera didn't have to be about monarchs, aristocrats or gods to be a hit. Puccini went on to write Madame Butterfly and Gianni Schicchi in the same realistic vein, establishing him as one of the finest ever opera composers.
  • The Turin premiere was conducted by the young Arturo Toscanini. Fifty years after the opera's premiere, Toscanini conducted a performance of La bohème on radio with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. This performance was eventually released on a record and it is the only recording of a Puccini opera by its original conductor.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

George Harrison

George HarrisonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really steal George's wife? What's the George Harrison-Monty Python connection? Set the record straight with our Fact or Fiction quiz.

Have Mercy! It's Wolfman Jack

Have Mercy! It's Wolfman JackSong Writing

The story of the legendary lupine DJ through the songs he inspired.

Lip-Synch Rebels

Lip-Synch RebelsSong Writing

What happens when Kurt Cobain, Iron Maiden and Johnny Lydon are told to lip-synch? Some hilarious "performances."

Bob Dylan Lyric Quiz

Bob Dylan Lyric QuizMusic Quiz

Think you know your Bob Dylan lyrics? Take this quiz to find out.

Kip Winger

Kip WingerSongwriter Interviews

The Winger frontman reveals the Led Zeppelin song he cribbed for "Seventeen," and explains how his passion for orchestra music informs his songwriting.

Metallica

MetallicaFact or Fiction

Beef with Bon Jovi? An unfortunate Spandex period? See if you can spot the true stories in this Metallica version of Fact or Fiction.