Give Opera a Shot: La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini

Lillian Gish in La Bohème, 1926

Based on my observations of the St. Pete Opera House, in about twenty years or so there will be no patrons left to patronize this art. There was barely a person below the age of 60 in the audience, but I think something like La Bohème could make it in the top of your charts if you give it a chance. Just prepare yourself.

By preparing yourself, I mean, read the opera story before you head out. People typically get bored because they don’t know what’s going on since most Opera gets sung in Italian, German, French, or Russian. Sometimes subtitles get projected on the wall, but then you’re missing the show. Just get familiar with the characters and the plot and the translation won’t be necessary, you will understand everything by following the emotions projected by the artists.

The Story of La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini

La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini is a witty and tragic Italian opera taking place on Christmas Eve around 1830, in the Latin Quarter of Paris.


Rudolpho, a poet, is looking out the window of a Parisian attic studio, while his painter friend, Marcello is working on his masterpiece, The Passage through the Red Sea. Both are penniless, trying their best to stay warm in their drafty apartment, as their empty fireplace “has had no legitimate payment” for a long time.

Marcello stops painting to remark that the chilly waters of the Red Sea seem to be running down the back of his neck, just for that, he adds, “I will drown a Pharaoh.” He makes a few strokes with his brush and turns to Rudolpho. After a few witty comments and some philosophizing about love, the two realize that they are still freezing and starving. Suddenly, Marcello suggests feeding his Great Masterpiece to the furnace, but Rudolpho objects saying that it will stink up the place. Then Rudolpho grabs his bulky manuscript of the play he is writing and begins tearing pages for the furnace. The scene continues as their two friends, philosopher, Colline, and musician, Schaunard enter the studio.


The friends go out, and as to be expected from all things Italian, things start heating up. Mimi and Musetta come on the scene and with them a whole plethora of emotions. Tenderness, passion, jealousy and things get hotter and hotter to the death. Whose death? You will have to go find out for yourself.

Why You Should Give Opera Chance

I get it– Opera can’t compete with light shows and synthesizers. It’s a different animal requiring high-level talent and soul. It takes a real artist to fill a theater with their voice, and even when the words don’t make sense, or the style is not your top choice the experience is worth it. The emotional energy coming from an Opera stage will inspire, uplift, and take your emotions for a spin.