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La bohème

Revived production

Opera by Giacomo Puccini

In Italian language with German surtitles

Puccini's opera tells the love story of Mimì and Rodolfo against the backdrop of the milieu of Parisian artists, students and prostitutes. For the poet Rodolfo and his artist friends, life is just a game they play to escape the bourgeoisie. But when his newfound love Mimì is ill and dying, life takes on a different form and suddenly becomes very real.

For this revival, the Volksoper Wien presents Harry Kupfer's legendary production, sung in Italian. With Kupfer (1935 - 2019), one of the most important opera directors in post-war history, there was often talk of faithfulness to the original work. Lotte de Beer paraphrases this concept as follows: "Always going back to the source, to the original meaning of a score in the context of its time, and only then seek a realisation that speaks to us in our present time." However, faithfulness to the original work is not only important in the creation of a new production; the term is slowly being applied to historical productions by top directors themselves, such as those by Kupfer.

For this new production, the Volksoper is undertaking an "archaeological" investigation of the source, namely the production that Harry Kupfer staged at this house in 1984.

First picture

Four bohemian friends on Christmas Eve in a Parisian garret. Poet Rodolfo, painter Marcello, philosopher Colline and musician Schaunard are starving and cold. Rodolfo burns the manuscript of his drama. Schaunard brings money, food and firewood. The landlord Benoit, who demands the long overdue rent, is thrown out. The friends move into the Café Momus; Rodolfo still wants to write and stays behind. Mimì, who lives in the same house, uses this moment to finally meet Rodolfo. In love, they both follow the friends to the café.

Second picture

Café Momus in the Latin Quarter. Exuberant Christmas atmosphere. Rodolfo introduces Mimì to his friends. Musetta, Marcello's girlfriend, appears – as so often – with a rich suitor. Once again addicted to their passion, Musetta and Marcello leave the café. The friends follow. The Galan who stays behind has to settle the bill.

Third picture

One year later. At a city gate in Paris. The sick Mimì asks Marcello for advice: Rodolfo torments her with his jealousy. She overhears a conversation between Marcello and Rodolfo, who is about to leave her because he is too weak to stay with the incurably ill woman. Mimì manages to get Rodolfo to agree to a compromise: they postpone their separation until next spring. Musetta leaves Marcello after an argument.

Fourth picture

Half a year later. The attic of the first picture. The friends feel the emptiness of their existence. Musetta brings the terminally ill Mimì. Musetta sells her jewellery, Colline hocks his coat to enable medical help. Mimì dies.


Stage direction
Harry Kupfer
Revived production
Angela Brandt
Set design
Reinhart Zimmermann
Costume design
Eleonore Kleiber
Choir director
Roger Díaz-Cajamarca
Musical direction
Omer Meir Wellber
Anett Fritsch
Alexandra Flood
Giorgio Berrugi
Andrei Bondarenko
Szymon Komasa
Alexander Fritze
Daniel Ohlenschläger
Morten Frank Larsen
Daniel Pannermayr
Andreas Baumeister

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