Allow me to preface this post by admitting the only Opera-esk anything I was familiar with and knew I already loved was Con te partirò performed by Andrea Bucelli and Sarah Brightman (click here for English lyrics). A special thank you shout out to the one and only Bellagio in Las Vegas for their beautiful fountains which broadened my musical background early in life! 😉
Earlier in the week I saw a local promo for Puccini’s La Behème performance at the Seattle Opera house and knowing nothing about it except for it having to do with Paris, I instinctively text my Uncle to find out if he’s seen it. To much of my surprise he hadn’t, and throwing the idea out there we somehow managed to coordinate our schedules to see it (last night) before it left (last show is tomorrow).
What is particularly funny about my family is that we are notorious for “winging it” regarding all matters imaginable. This is actually the majority reason why my blog is titled “Jenn’s Adventures” simply because it is completely normal to fly by the seat of my pants.
My Uncle ended up picking up tickets the day of and snatched early dinner reservations at Prelude (casual elegant restaurant in the McCaw Hall) prior to the show. Everything fell into place perfectly — including parking!
We hadn’t seen each other in an abnormally long time due to our crazy work schedules as of late, so it was very refreshing to catch up with him and experience something that was new to the both of us! My Uncle has a very long history with Paris, and I credit my timeless obsession with it entirely to him. Plus, this Puccini score is [one of] my Grandma’s favorites, which made this all the more special for us. 🙂
We were seated at the end of the 5th row from the stage, with no one in front of us — it. was. amazing. Because we were completely enamored by the cast and their performance it was truly like we were the only ones there!
Here is a 3 minute video capturing a couple scenes in the first and third act from the Friday & Sunday night cast:
There were subtitles provided (above the stage), which was fabulous because I honestly didn’t expect it! I was prepared to just take in the music and “figure it out” by watching and feeling the passion and conviction of the performance.
For those of you (like me prior to) who do not know this famous story of Puccini’s La Behème there are IV acts to this love story…
Rodolfo is a poet, sharing a garret in Paris with his Bohemian friends: Marcello, a painter; Shaunard, a musician and Colline, a philosopher. The men scrape along, picking up odd jobs and joking about their poverty as they pursue their arts. On Christmas Eve, a seamstress named Mimì knocks on the door. Her candle has blown out, and she asks Rodolfo for a light so she can return to her own apartment. At one touch of her cold little hand, Rodolfo falls in love with the fragile Mimì. He introduces himself in the aria “Che gelida manina.” She responds with an aria of her own, “Mi chiamano Mimì,” and their voices blend as they sing of love in the duet “O soave fanciulla.”
Meanwhile, buoyed by an unexpected windfall, Rodolfo’s friends have gathered at the Café Momus to watch the people passing by and to enjoy a good meal. Rodolfo brings Mimì to the party. Marcello’s lover Musetta arrives with her latest protector, the wealthy and much older Alcindoro. As she sings her famous waltz, Musetta torments Marcello and Alcindoro, finally sending the older man away by pretending her foot hurts and demanding a new pair of shoes. While Alcindoro is gone, Musetta falls into Marcello’s arms and chrarges the Bohemians’ meal to Alcindoro’s account, much to the amusement of the crowd at the café. The friends leave together.
On a cold winter morning some months later, Mimì seeks outs Marcello. she wants his advice about Rodolfo, whose unreasonable jealousy is ruining their life together. Marcello tries to comfort her. When Rodolfo arrives, Mimì hides and Marcello questions him about Mimì. Rodolfo begins by accusing Mimì of being a flirt, but then confesses his real reason for trying to drive her off. Mimì’s consumption is growing worse, and Rodolfo has no money to provide for her. Overhearing this, Mimì approaches Rodolfo and bids him good-bye in the aria “Donde lieta.” Grief stricken, the pair cannot bear to part yet and pledge to stay together until the spring.
One afternoon in the springtime, Rodolfo writes and Marcello paints at the garret, but their thoughts keep straying to their absent sweethearts. Schaunard and Colline try to cheer the others up with a cheap supper, but the arrival of Musetta with a now drastically ill Mimì sobers all the men. Musetta gives her earrings to Marcello to pay for a doctor, and Colline decides to pawn his coat to help the girl (aria: “Vecchia zimarra”). Rodolfo stays by Mimì’s side, trying to cheer her by recalling their first meeting on the night that her candle blew out. The Bohemians return with their gifts, but it is too late. Mimì rallies for a few moments and then passes away. The distraught Rodolfo is the last to realize that she is dead.
The cast, the orchestra, the entire performances and overall experience was absolutely incredible. This love story was romantic, funny, frustrating, and sad. A remarkable opera experience that will truly not be my last!
I have always wanted to broaden my “cultural affairs” and inspire to experience more new-to-me-things, such as the ballet and other special events this wonderful city of Seattle offers!
Have YOU been to the Opera before?
If so, where & what performance?
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