From 9 to 17 July, Paris’ Opéra Comique is hosting an adaptation of Puccini’s masterpiece. The occasion represents the opportunity to share, in music and images, the intimacy of this work that has touched generations of audiences—as well as a chance to (re)discover the recently renovated theatre.
In the summer in France, the cultural season abandons Paris somewhat to take up residence in the regional festivals. The Opéra Comique is daring to go against this convention to put on La Bohème in the middle of July.
Parisians and visitors will discover a modified version of Puccini’s Italian opera sang in French with English subtitles, called “Bohème, notre jeunesse” (“Bohemia, our youth”).
In the story, Mimi (Sandrine Buendia) and Rudolphe (Kevin Amiel) lead a bohemian life lived in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1830s. Their existence revolves around student garrets and libertine cafés, fleeting love affairs and deep friendships, games and drama.
The new adaption hosted by the Opéra “strives to present the text to modernity while respecting the era that bore it.” Under the musical direction of Marc-Olivier Dupin and directed by Pauline Bureau, the production promises to “underscore the loneliness (of the female characters) in a world where the men are together and where the women exist through and for them.” This theme seems especially current in 2018.
The set and costume design work to straddle this line between the past and present, striving to create “a Paris lit in neon, wearing an old fashioned petticoat that could be worn today.” As Henry Murger, the author of Scènes de la vie de bohème (which inspired Puccini’s opera), wrote: “the bohemian life can only exist, and is only possible, in Paris”.
The Opéra Comique is seizing this opportunity to revisit the work of the Italian composer that is “almost French in its source matter” and “the most beautiful homage that the Belle Époque created to the romance of Paris.” Translated by Paul Ferrier, the La Bohème enjoyed a triumph at the Opéra Comique from 1898 and stayed on the bill until 1971, before being reborn this summer in the Salle Favart. Not to be missed!