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Teatro Regio, Sunday 26 October 2008 - Thursday 30 October 2008
About 1830 in Paris
In a garret. It is cold in the Parisian garret where the painter Marcello and poet Rodolfo live, and they don’t have money to buy wood for the fire or food; the philosopher Colline comes in, discouraged because it is Christmas Eve and he can’t pawn anything. Instead, the musician Schaunard arrives with provisions, wood, food and wine, having unexpectedly earned some money; he wants to celebrate at the Café Momus in the Latin Quarter and invites his friends to go out with him. Someone knocks at the door: it is Benoît, their landlord, who has come for the rent. Tricking him, they manage to avoid paying. While the others go on ahead, Rodolfo remains to finish writing an article. A young girl knocks at the door: it is Mimì, who lives next door, and she asks him to relight her candle, but she feels ill and faints.
Rodolfo is struck by her beauty and helps her to recover. Mimì is about to go out but a draught again extinguishes her candle. Rodolfo blows his own out, and while the two of them are looking for Mimì’s key in the moonlight, Rodolfo takes her hand and tells her that he is a poet; she also talks about herself, saying she is an embroiderer. Rodolfo tries to embrace her and invites her to join him and his friends, which she does.
In the Latin Quarter. The three friends are seated at the Café Momus and Rodolfo introduces his new love, Mimì, to them. Musetta, Marcello’s former flame, arrives, accompanied by the wealthy Alcindoro. Opulently dressed, she does everything to catch Marcello’s attention, and then, with a stratagem, sends Alcindoro away and throws herself into Marcello’s arms. A military tattoo passes, and the four friends discover they don’t have the money to pay the bill: Musette orders the waiter to add it to Alcindoro’s.
The Enfer Quarter. Marcello and Musetta live at an inn where the artist is painting the façade. Mimì has come to give vent to her feelings with Marcello because Rodolfo is too jealous, and after yet another quarrel he has left. Marcello tells her that he spent the night at the inn. Mimì pretends to go away, but hides in order to hear the dialogue between the two friends: Rodolfo confesses to his friend that Mimì is gravely ill with consumption, and he, so poor, feels guilty because he cannot help her. Mimì coughs and Rodolfo discovers her: they decide to remain together until the spring. Instead, Marcello and Musetta separate: he discovered her flirting with a patron.
In the garret. Marcello and Rodolfo are unable to work because they are thinking about Musetta and Mimì. Colline and Schaunard return and together transform their scanty meal into a fun evening of dances and pillow fights, but Musetta arrives to inform them that Mimì is worse and has asked to see Rodolfo. She lies down on the bed, Rodolfo once again declares his love for her and Mimì recalls their happy moments. Mimì dies and Rodolfo, desperate, cries out her name.