La bohème

Giacomo Puccini (1858 – 1924)

Information on the piece

Opera in 4 acts
Based on the novel „Scènes de la vie de bohème“ by Henri Murger
Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa
First performed on 1. February, 1896 in Turin
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 25. December, 1988

2 hrs 30 mins / 1 interval

In Italian with German and English surtitles

Pre-performance lecture (in German): 45 minutes prior to each performance

recommended from 12 years
Share this post
Our thanks to our partners

The children's chorus is supported by Dobolino e. V.

About the performance

About the work
A garret in Paris on a cold winter’s day around Christmas. Rodolfo, a writer, and Marcello, a painter, are working on their masterpieces. They have no money to buy food, pay the rent or fuel the stove. Colline, a philosopher, returns from the pawn shop empty handed, having failed to get rid of some books. Only Schaunard, a musician, has managed to come up with some victuals, kindling, cigars and cash, so off they go to Café Momus - without Rodolfo, who’s trying to work. Mimì, the embroiderer from next door, arrives to ask for a match to light her candle with. She collapses and loses her key; cue for Rodolfo to fall in love with Mimì, who is terminally ill with TB, although he dumps her two months later because the prospect of her ailment getting steadily worse in her freezing home is too much for him. Six months go by. Musetta, Marcello’s ex, arrives with Mimì, whose condition is grave. Musetta sells some earrings with a view to buying medicine; Colline gives up his coat. Gratitude and happiness for a short while. Rodolfo thinks Mimì is sleeping and her body regenerating, …but in fact she’s dead.

With his EDGAR [1889] and MANON LESCAUT Puccini had already made his name as a maestro of musical colour, but it was not until LA BOHÈME that he achieved the marriage of material and score that moved Claude Debussy to raptures: »No one in my mind has captured the essence of Paris so well as Puccini in LA BOHÈME«. Puccini’s impressionistic style is a blend of subjective feeling and objective tonal painting. From the very beginning the music is working its charm, be it through the sound painting, atmospheric touches or local colour conveyed by the score: Rodolfo and Marcello burning the script; the poet flicking water on Mimì’s unconscious brow to cool her down; in Act 2 the chorus representing the crowd in contrast to the orchestra embodying the military parade; in Act 3 the restrained, austere music conveying the atmosphere of a chilly winter’s morning.

About the production
Götz Friedrich’s production from 1988 transposes the action from 1840s Paris to the end of that century, i.e. to Puccini’s own present day. His version of the work, with its colourful depictions of Belle Époque Paris and the outsized stage sets, continue to captivate audiences 35 years later.

Our recommendations

Madame Butterfly
Il trittico


News about the schedule
and the start of advance booking
Personal recommendations
Special offers ...
Stay well informed!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our Newsletter and receive 25% off your next ticket purchase.

* Mandatory field



Adventskalender im Foyer: Das 4. Fensterchen

African American Spirituals
with Christian Simmons and John Parr
5.00 p.m. / Rang-Foyer right
Duration: approx. 25 minutes / admission free

In Germany, it is still little known today that, parallel to the development of the European song, the spiritual in the USA looks back on a tradition that goes back to the 17th century. Created during the oppression of slavery as songs of labour, freedom, play, lamentation, celebration or lullabies, African-American spirituals form the starting point for gospel, blues and ultimately also for jazz, R&B and African-American music in general. Spirituals are characterised by their rhythmic finesse, which includes counter-rhythms, polyrhythms and syncopation. The tonality is characterised by microtonality, pentatonic scales and the varied use of the singing voice. All these elements suggest that the influences of African music, as brought to America by slaves, have survived over the centuries, mostly passed down orally, to this day.

The bass-baritone Christian Simmons, originally from Washington D.C., was a member of the Cafritz Young Artists of the Washington National Opera in the 2022/23 season and joined the ensemble of the Deutsche Oper Berlin as a scholarship holder of the Opera Foundation New York in the 2023/24 season. Over the course of the season, he will appear in roles such as Lord Rochefort / ANNA BOLENA, 2nd Harnischter / DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE, Pinellino / GIANNI SCHICCHI, Brabantischer Edler / LOHENGRIN, Oberpriester des Baal / NABUCCO and Sciarrone / TOSCA. Simmons is the district winner of the Metropolitan Opera's 2022/23 Eric and Dominique Laffont Competition, winner of the 2017 Harlem Opera Theater Vocal Competition, winner of the 2016 National Association of Teaching Singing (NATS) Regional Competition, and an Honorary Life Member of the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts (CAAPA). A graduate of Morgan State University and the Maryland Opera Studio, Simmons is a member of the nation's first and largest music fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity of America.

John Parr was born in Birmingham in 1955 and studied at Manchester University and at the Royal Northern College of Music with Sulamita Aronovsky. He won prizes as a solo pianist at international competitions in Barcelona and Vercelli and was a member of Yehudi Menuhin's "Live Music Now". From 1985 to 1988 he was a guest repetiteur at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and worked for the Scottish Opera in Glasgow from 1989 to 1991. He came to Germany in 1991 and was Head of Studies and Musical Assistant to the General Music Director in Hanover. In 2000, Pamela Rosenberg and Donald Runnicles brought him to San Francisco Opera as Head of Music Staff. From 2002 to 2005, he was musical assistant at the Bayreuth Festival. From 2011 to 2014, he was casting director and assistant to the general music director at the Staatstheater Karlsruhe. Since August 2014, John Parr has been working at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, initially as Head of Studies and since 2018 as Head Coach.