Dilemmas and Decisions in La Boheme


General Introduction
What would you do if you were faced with the same decisions as the characters from La Boheme? Listen to the question, and once you've decided on your answer, click 'yes' or 'no' to find out how your decision compares with the ones made in the opera.




1. Burning the masterpiece
It's Christmas Eve. You're a young writer with no money, living in a freezing flat. You desperately need something to start a fire to warm the place up. But all you have is a copy of your latest play that's taken you years to write. Do you throw it on the fire?

Yes - So, you'd watch your years of hard work go up in smoke would you? Well, at the beginning of the opera, the poet Rodolfo is so cold and so broke, he does exactly the same thing to keep himself and his flat mate Marcello warm, even if just for a few toasty seconds...

No - I don't blame you. If you destroy the one copy of your play, the world may never discover you're a genius. Your art is clearly far more precious to you than it is to Rodolfo, who at the start of the opera, burns his play to keep himself and his flat mate Marcello warm...




2. Paying the rent
You're seriously overdue on your rent. Your landlord comes round and you and your friends hatch a plan to get him drunk and send him away without paying him. You really don't have the money, but is this the right thing to do?

Yes - Well, I'm sorry to say that Rodolfo, Marcello and friends make the same decision as you. The landlord, Monsieur Benoit is not only plied with wine, but also tricked into saying something very rude about his wife. The boys throw him out in pretend disgust.

No - Your honesty indicates that you are truly a person to be trusted, and this being so, I have no doubt you will come to some agreement with Monsieur Benoit, your landlord. Unfortunately, Rodolfo, Marcello and chums do not share your moral fibre and instead get Benoit to drink far too much wine and trick him into saying rude things about his wife.




3. Love at first sight
The beautiful girl from the flat upstairs has knocked on your door to ask for a cup of sugar. Even though you've only just met, the feelings you're experiencing are so strong. Do you believe in love at first sight?

Yes - You are clearly a born romantic, and after all, first impressions are often correct. Just like you, Rodolfo and Mimi also believe in love at first sight – they've only known each other 5 minutes and they're off singing fantastic love duets together, before going out for a night on the town.

No - I understand your point of view – after all it takes time to really get to know someone. But in La boheme, Rodolfo and Mimi are instantly attracted to each other like magnets. Within minutes, they're both in such a loved up state that there's no room for the sensible reasoning you clearly possess.




4. Passionate artist
You're sat in a café enjoying a coffee when your ex-girlfriend makes an extravagant entrance holding hands with her rich new boyfriend. You are a poor but passionate artist, and you still have feelings for your ex. It would probably be best to ignore her, but can you stop yourself letting her know how you feel?

Yes - I congratulate you on your self-control. Ignore her, and take comfort that her new boyfriend Alcindoro is nothing compared to you, even if he is rich. But in La Boheme, the painter Marcello has a fiery relationship with ex-girlfriend Musetta. They're always breaking up and getting back together, and here you'll see Musetta get rid of Alcindoro so she can be with Marcello again. Pretending her new shoes are too tight, she makes an awful scene, ordering Alcindoro to buy her another pair. With him out the way, Musetta and Marcello get back together...

No - Don't worry – it's important to express your feelings. In La Boheme, the painter Marcello does his best to control his anger when ex girlfriend Musetta enters the café with her rich new boyfriend, Alcindoro. But when Musetta pretends her new shoes are too tight and makes a scene, Marcello realises Musetta still loves him – the shoes are just a trick to get rid of Alcindoro, who's ordered to leave and buy her another pair. With him out the way, Musetta and Marcello get back together again...




5. Do the right thing
Your girlfriend has been ill and tired ever since you first met her. From speaking to doctors, you've realised that she urgently needs help. You know she can only afford the care she needs if she goes back to her rich ex. Would that be the right thing to do?

Yes - Wow – you have got one big problem here AND my deepest sympathy. But could you bear to see your girlfriend with someone else, just for the money? In La Boheme, poor Rodolfo faces a similar decision and out of sheer hopelessness, starts treating his girlfriend Mimi very badly, hoping she'll go off him and fall for someone with more money. But when it comes to actually splitting up, neither of them can do it – they love each other too much.

No - I'm so sorry to hear the dilemma you're in, but you're absolutely right: in the end we all want love more than money. In La Boheme, poor Rodolfo faces a similar decision, and out of sheer hopelessness, start treating his girlfriend Mimi very badly - hoping she'll go off him and fall for someone with more money. But when it comes to actually splitting up, neither of them can do it – they love each other too much.




6. Selling your coat
Your friend is seriously ill and very poor. You have no money yourself, it's freezing cold and the only thing of value you own is your coat. Do you sell the coat to buy some medicine for your sick friend?

Yes - Wow, in an emergency, you're exactly the sort of person that's good to have around, just like Mimi and Rodolfo's friend Colline, who loves his coat so much he even sings a farewell song to it. He knows that Mimi needs medicine and needs it quick. Without a thought for himself, he sells his coat in the hope that medicine will save her.

No - Well, I do understand, I mean, what's the point of TWO people freezing to death? Also, this is one fine coat we're talking about. In La Boheme however, Rudolfo and Mimi's friend Colline isn't quite as attached to his coat as you are (although have you ever sung a song to your coat?) He does the only thing he can to help Mimi get better, and that means selling his coat.