A NEW STAGE VERSION
Opera in 4 acts
Libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica
based on the novel Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger
The premiere took place at the Teatro Regio di Torino on 1 February 1896
Premiere at the Astana Opera House: 19, 20 April 2019
Conductor: Giuseppe Acquaviva
Director: Andrea Bernard
Scenographer: Ezio Frigerio
Costume Designer: Franca Squarciapino
Chief Chorus Master: Yerzhan Dautov, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan
Projection Designer: Sergio Metalli
Lighting Designer: Vincenzo Raponi
Project Technical Director: Viсtor Carare
Choirmasters of the Children’s Studio: Altynganym Akhmetova, Aigerim Makibayeva
Assistant Directors: Tecla Gucci, Yerenbak Toikenov
Assistant Scenographer: Riccardo Massironi
Assistant Costume Designers: Danièle Boutard, Anna Verde, Arassel Dosmuratova
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (including two intervals)
Performed in Italian
(with synchronized Kazakh and Russian subtitles)
ROLES AND PERFORMERS
Mimi – Mariya Mudryak /
Maira Mukhamedkyzy, Honoured Artist of Kazakhstan, Laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Kazakhstan /Zhannat Baktay, Honoured Artist of Kazakhstan /Aigul Niyazova, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan
Rodolfo – Medet Chotabayev, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan /
Zhan Tapin, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan
Musetta – Saltanat Akhmetova, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan /
Alfiya Karimova, Honoured Artist of Bashkortostan
Marcello – Sundet Baigozhin, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan, Laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Kazakhstan /
Talgat Mussabayev, Honoured Worker of Kazakhstan
Colline – Tair Tazhi / Bolat Yessimkhanov
Schaunard – Andrey Borisenko / Yerzhan Saipov
Alcindoro – Armin Babayan / Tair Tazhi
Benoît – Talgat Galeyev / Magzhan Amanzholov
Parpignol – Beimbet Tanarykov / Ramzat Balakishiyev
Customs Sergeant – Samat Zharylkassynov / Bakhtiyar Omarov
Students, working girls, townsfolk, shopkeepers, street-vendors, waiters, children
ORCHESTRA, CHORUS, EXTRAS AND CHILDREN’S CHOIR OF THE ASTANA OPERA HOUSE
ASTANA CIRCUS ARTISTS
The action takes place in Paris
ACT 1. The Latin Quarter. A room in a fabric building
The painter and photographer Marcello and the poet Rodolfo are preparing the set for Marcello’s next photo. Rodolfo is posing for Marcello’s photo, but he is absent-minded and distracted because he can’t finish his drama.
The room is very cold, and in addition, the friends are hungry due to their state of poverty. However, encouraged by their dreams and hopes, the friends accept their hardship with humour. The cold fireplace is lighted by the manuscript of Rodolfo’s drama.
Colline, the philosopher, enters, completely numb from the cold outside, followed by the musician Schaunard, who managed to procure some food, wine and firewood. The livened up friends have fun and outwit their landlord, who has come to collect the rent, and after getting him drunk, they thrust him from the room.
The young friends decide to go out and celebrate Christmas Eve at the Café Momus. Only Rodolfo stays at home promising to join his friends soon – first, he has to finish writing an article.
A hesitant knock on the door is heard. This is Mimì, a next-door neighbour, who has come to ask to light her candle as it has blown out. She is briefly overcome with faintness, and Rodolfo helps her to a chair and offers her a glass of wine. Mimì leaves, but immediately returns, claiming that she has dropped her key.
Her candle goes out in the draught and Rodolfo’s candle goes out too; the pair stumble in the dark. Rodolfo, eager to spend time with the girl, to whom he is already attracted, finds the key and pockets it, feigning innocence. He takes her cold hand and tells her of his difficult life as a poet. In return, Mimì describes her life. Impatiently, the waiting friends call Rodolfo. He answers them, and then turns to Mimì, unable to leave her. Mimì gladly decides to accompany Rodolfo to the Café Momus. As they leave, they sing of their newfound love.
ACT 2. At the Latin Quarter
It is evening, Christmas Eve. Noisy excitement reigns in the streets and squares.
Mimì, Rodolfo, Marcello, Schaunard and Colline walk about with the festive crowd. They feel excited and enjoy spending their money: they buy a pipe, a trumpet and a bonnet. Joking and having fun, they sit down at a table in the Café Momus.
In the middle of the feast Marcello’s former girlfriend Musetta appears. Her rich admirer, Alcindoro, accompanies her. Musetta has left Marcello: she got tired of living a bohemian life, but she still loves him. Marcello, wanting to get revenge for his beloved’s betrayal, pretends not to notice her. His fake indifference irritates Musetta, but Alcindoro’s presence hinders her. To get rid of Alcindoro for a bit, Musetta pretends to be suffering from a tight shoe and sends him to the shoemaker to get her shoe mended. Alcindoro leaves, and Musetta and Marcello fall rapturously into each other’s arms.
The friends are presented with their bill. No one has enough money to pay. The sly Musetta has the entire bill charged to Alcindoro. The sound of a military band is heard, and the friends leave. Alcindoro returns with the repaired shoe seeking Musetta.
The waiter hands him the bill and, astonished, Alcindoro collapses.
ACT 3. At the train station on the periphery
In an early February morning, at the train station some train workers and sweepers get ready for work, peasants and milkmaids cross the station under the control of a customs officer and a sergeant. Cheerful voices and Musetta’s laughter are heard from the Café de la Gare. Mimì arrives looking for Marcello, who is inside the Café, she asks a woman outside to call him. As soon as Marcello joins her, she asks him for advice. She complains that Rodolfo’s jealousy has made their life intolerable, but the truth is that she is getting sick more and more day by day.
Mimi sees Rodolfo approaching and hides. In conversation with Marcello, Rodolfo first accuses Mimi of her frivolity and coquettishness, but then reveals the truth: his beloved is terminally ill, and in their state of poverty, love won’t be enough to save her, he hopes that his pretended unkindness will inspire her to seek another, wealthier suitor.
Mimi’s sobbing and coughing reveal her presence. Filled with remorse, Rodolfo hurries to her and gently comforts her. At this time, Marcello hears Musetta’s flirtatious laughter and rushes into the Café.
Having learned the terrible truth, Mimi insists on separation. Overcome by deep sorrow, lovers say goodbye to each other, but with the promise that they will part once and for all in the spring, when the flowers will bloom. Marcello and Musetta appear quarrelling. Marcello chides Musetta for her incorrigible flirtatiousness, and they decide to part forever.
ACT 4. The Latin Quarter. A room in a fabric building
A few months later, Marcello and Rodolfo are again in their room; their dreams are broken, art is no longer inspiring. When talking about their girlfriends, who have left them and found wealthy lovers, they both express their nostalgia.
Schaunard and Colline arrive with a very frugal dinner and all parody eating a plentiful banquet, dance together and sing, before Schaunard and Colline engage in a mock duel.
In the middle of all the fun, Musetta appears. With her came Mimi, severely weakened by her illness, she begged Musetta to bring her to Rodolfo. Mimì, haggard and pale, is assisted by the friends and lies down. Briefly, she feels as though she is recovering. Musetta and Marcello leave to sell Musetta’s earrings and Marcello’s photo camera in order to buy medicine, and Colline leaves to pawn his overcoat. Schaunard leaves with Colline to give Mimì and Rodolfo some time together.
Mimì tells Rodolfo that her love for him is deep and infinite like the sea, he is all her life. They recall their past happiness and the first day they met.
Suddenly, Mimì is overwhelmed by a coughing fit, on Rodolfo’s cry Schaunard rushes in. The others return, with a gift of a muff to warm Mimì’s hands and some medicine. Mimì gently thanks for the muff, reassures Rodolfo that she is better and falls asleep.
Musetta prays. Schaunard discovers that Mimì has died. Rodolfo rushes to her, calling Mimì’s name in anguish, and having not received her answer, runs away in despair.