“These Bohemians are anarchic and full of life. Their courage, hope and passion are infectious. They are scoundrels of course, without a care for tomorrow - certainly not when there is wine to be had, a kiss to be stolen and emotions to express. We love them for it - and we reminisce.” Craig Ilott
The most romantic opera of all time, La bohème appeals to devotees and newcomers alike.
Mimì’s love affair with the poet Rodolfo begins on a snowy Christmas Eve in Paris on the cusp of 1914, a year that changes the world forever.
Award winning theatre director Craig Ilott (Smoke & Mirrors) and designer Penny Challen have chosen that last optimistic winter – exactly one hundred years ago - as an electric moment to set Puccini’s beloved story of bohemian life. In this intimate and revealing new production popular conductor Guy Noble directs an ensemble of musicians from the Queensland Symphony Orchestra in a chamber orchestration arranged by Richard Gill. It stars some of Queensland’s most exciting young singers as a group of rent-dodging flatmates living and loving precariously on the edge of society.
Two different casts will perform in this year's production of La bohème. Casting information for each performance can be found here.
* In Brisbane, free pre-performance talks about the opera, hosted by John Colwill, commence 45 minutes before each performance and last approximately 20 minutes. Pre-performance talks may also be held in certain regional centres. Contact your local venue for more information.
Dates and ticket information for the Brisbane season of La bohème can be found on the right of this page. We will also be touring to eight regional centres. The chorus in each regional centre will be made up of local community members as part of Project Puccini. Find out more about this exciting initiative here.
Tickets to regional performances can be found via the links below.
The Arts Centre Gold Coast
9 August at 2pm and 7:30pm
Ipswich Civic Centre
12 August at 7:30pm
Empire Theatre, Toowoomba
15 August at 7:30pm
Brolga Theatre & Convention Centre, Fraser Coast
20 August at 7:30pm
The Pilbeam Theatre, Rockhampton
23 August at 7:30pm
Mackay Entertainment & Convention Centre
27 August at 7:30pm
Townsville Civic Theatre
30 August at 2pm and 7:30pm
Mount Isa Civic Centre
4 September at 7:30pm
To book, phone Outback at Isa
(07) 4749 1555
Act One: Paris, Christmas Eve
Rodolfo, an aspiring poet, and Marcello, a painter, are freezing in their apartment. Rodolfo lights a feeble fire with one of his manuscripts. As it dies, Marcello and Colline, a philosophy student, mock the lack of passion in his “fragile drama”. The musician Schaunard arrives with reinforcements bought with cash from an unexpected job: food, wine and wood for the fire! When their landlord Benoit knocks demanding his rent, the four friends ply him with wine and trick him into an embarrassing exit. Rodolfo settles down to finish an article he is writing as the others set out for a meal at the Café Momus. There is another knock. This time it is his pretty neighbour begging for a light for her unlit candle. Rodolfo obliges, but as she is leaving both candles go out and Mimì drops her key. Searching for it in the darkness, their hands accidentally touch. They drink some wine, share their stories, and then as moonlight fills the room Rodolfo declares his love. They set off into the night to join the others.
Act Two: The Latin Quarter
Later that night the Latin Quarter is bustling with Christmas shoppers and hawkers. Rodolfo buys Mimi a bonnet and introduces her to his friends. Marcello’s ex-girlfriend Musetta turns up at the Café Momus with her latest admirer, the elderly and conservative Alcindoro. To the old man’s disgust, Musetta sings a scandalous song that has the desired effect of making Marcello wild with desire for her. Musetta sends Alcindoro on an errand so she can join in the revelry with Marcello and his friends. They leave the old fool a memento on his return – the bill.
Act Three: Dawn at the outskirts of Paris, some months later
A noisy crowd can be heard in a nearby tavern as a customs official admits farm women to the city. An exhausted Mimì comes looking for Marcello to help her find Rodolfo, with whom she has quarrelled – his jealousy is making their life together impossible. Rodolfo suddenly appears and Mimi hides. He first accuses Mimì of being a flirt, but when challenged confides to Marcello that she is very ill, and blames himself and his poverty for not being able to help her. Mimì’s sudden coughing betrays her presence. Sadly accepting it is best that they part, they begin the process of separation, but then decide to stay together until spring returns. Their reconciliation is interrupted by Marcello and Musetta quarrelling.
Act Four: SpringWorking in their former apartment, Rodolfo and Marcello pretend not to care that Mimì and Musetta, from whom they have now parted, have found wealthy admirers. Schaunard and Colline lift their spirits with a meagre banquet, which turns into an anarchic dance. Suddenly Musetta arrives with news that Mimì is desperately ill outside and wants to see Rodolfo. The bohemians rally to the cause. Musetta pawns her earrings and Colline his beloved coat to buy medicine for the dying Mimì. Left alone, Rodolfo shows Mimì that he has kept the bonnet they bought on the night they met. They both recall the intensity of their first encounter, but she is exhausted by coughing. When the others return, she weakly thanks them for their kindness and falls asleep. Rodolfo is the last to realize that Mimì has died.
Conservatorium Theatre, Griffith University, South Bank
Australian premiere of a new OperaQ production
The performance lasts 2 hours and 20 minutes, including one twenty minute interval.
Images created by Damien Bredberg