La Boheme in Madrid, December 2017
A new production of La Bohème, by Giacomo Puccini, with conductor Paolo Carignani and stage director Richard Jones, comes to the Teatro Real. This is a co-production with the Royal Opera House in London and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. The cold December weather in Madrid will transport us to the Parisian winter tainted with melancholy that accompanies the thwarted love of Rodolfo (Stephen Costello) and Mimì (Anita Hartig).
Puccini constructed a story about young, innocent, hopeful, bohemians, whose dreams were cut short in atmosphere of hardship, but whose lives continue to touch us today. The beauty of the music, the dramatic effectiveness, the orchestral motifs and the sentimentality of the story, as befits Italian melodrama, are the components that made La Bohème one of the most loved operas ever.
La Boheme is one of the very few operas in the history of the genre have conveyed the fragility of happiness. The intense love between Mimì and Rodolfo battles to survive, without success, beset by the hardships of poverty, severe cold and misfortune. In its tragic conclusion, we see the characteristically grim reality of Italian verismo. To put music to his story, Giacomo Puccini used a refined harmonic language and a series of extraordinarily beautiful melodies, to give life to a young group of Parisian artists of the 19th century, who dream that a stroke of good luck will bring them success.
All too briefly, the cruel end which awaits these characters is eased with the delicacy of Mimi. She is a perfect portrait of a kind-hearted, virtuous woman who is cheated by destiny. The premiere was conducted by a young Arturo Toscanini. Despite the initially cool reaction by the audience and critics, it was not long before La Boheme became an essential pillar of romantic Italian repertory.