La Bohème: The Story

Act 1

It was Christmas Eve. The poet Rodolfo and painter Marcello were hard at work in their freezing cold flat - they were so broke they couldn’t afford wood for the fire. Their friends Colline and Schaunard turned up, and Schaunard announced that for once he’d actually got some money, and brought some food. But as it was Christmas Eve, they decided to go out to a fancy café for dinner. They all left except Rodolfo, who had some work to finish. Left alone, there was a knock on the door – it was Mimi, the beautiful girl from upstairs who needed a light for her candle. Rodolfo quickly realised that not only did she seem unwell, but that he was also falling in love with her, and she with him. They went off to join Rodolfo’s friends at the cafe.

Act 2

The streets were packed with Christmas shoppers. Rodolfo joined his friends at the café and introduced Mimi to them all. Suddenly, they were interrupted by the entrance of Marcello’s ex girlfriend, the nightclub singer, Musetta. She’d arrived with her new boyfriend, who was very rich and rather old. Marcello could barely contain his jealousy, but when Musetta pretended her new shoes were too tight, and ordered her rich boyfriend to leave and buy her a new pair, Marcello couldn’t resist her. With the new boyfriend out the way, they fell into each other’s arms. All the friends left the café, while the rich boyfriend was left to pay the bill when he came back from the shoe shop.

Act 3

A few months later outside the city gates, Mimi turned up at the pub where Marcello and Musetta now lived Asking Marcello for advice about Rodolfo’s recent coldness towards her, Marcello told Mimi she should split up with him straight away. Rodolfo arrived to speak with Marcello, and Mimi hid away, but could still hear everything they said. Rodolfo finally admitted he’d been unkind to Mimi: not because he didn’t love her, but because he felt so helpless. He knew Mimi was dangerously ill and thought she needed someone with more money to look after her. Struck by a coughing fit, Mimi showed herself and told Rodolfo it was over between them. But no matter how much they tried to split up, they were too in love to actually do it. Schaunard can tell you what happened next...he was actually there.

Act 4

Many more months had passed – Marcello and Rodolfo were back in their flat and had both split up from their girlfriends. But it was obvious they were still madly in love with them. Colline and I arrived, and we tried to cheer things up a little. Suddenly Musetta burst in to say that Mimi was downstairs, and she’d collapsed with exhaustion. Rodolfo rushed to Mimi’s side, and we did all we could to help. We left them alone - they just talked about the good times they’d shared, and that’s when Mimi falls asleep. We all came back, and Rodolfo slowly realised what we already knew; Mimi was dead... Rodolfo cried out in grief.