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La boheme, act II December 25, 2006

Posted by Jeff in Italian, La Boheme, Opera, Theater.

Renata Scotto is the Mimì in my other La Boheme DVD, from a 1977 Met performance with Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo. It was the first Met performance in twenty-five years to be broadcast live on TV. I’ll never forget watching it live with my parents who had never heard of Pavarotti, and who scoffed that anyone could possibly hold a candle to Bjöerling who they had both seen live in the 1940s.

I don’t know of any other soprano of Scotto’s stature who started her career playing Mimì and then willingly switched to Musetta, which is after all not the starring role.

But that’s Scotto for you … not only one of the best opera singers of her generation but also just about the smartest: she was a very good Mimì, but far and away a better Musetta.

Act II

The act begins with the shouts of street hawkers near the Café Momus.

Rodolfo buys Mimì a bonnet, and introduces her to his friends.

They sit down and order supper. The toy vendor Parpignol (Dale Caldwell) passes by, besieged by eager children.

Marcello’s former sweetheart, Musetta (Renata Scotto), makes a noisy entrance on the arm of the elderly but wealthy Alcindoro (Italo Tajo).

Trying to regain the painter’s attention, Musetta sings a song about her own popularity (Musetta’s waltz – “Quando m’en vo”). To get rid of Alcindoro, she complains that her shoe pinches, sending him off to fetch a new pair. The moment he is gone, she falls into Marcello’s arms. When the Bohemian’s bill is presented, Musetta tells the waiter to charge everything to Alcindoro. Soldiers march by the café, and the Bohemians fall in behind. Alcindoro returns with Musetta’s shoes – only to be handed the two bills.

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