ACT I: LA BOHÈME takes place on the Left Bank of Paris in the 1830s. Rodolfo, Marcello and Colline find no means of obtaining warmth or comfort on Christmas Eve until Schaunard arrives with enough money to take them to Café Momus. Their departure is delayed briefly by the arrival of the landlord, Benoit, who is tricked out of his rent. Rodolfo is left alone. Mimi, a young seamstress, comes to the door seeking a light for her candle. She loses her key and, as she and Rodolfo are searching for it, their hands touch. Rodolfo asks to warm her cold hands (Aria: Che gelida manina), and tells her of his life as a poor poet. She tells him of her lonely life in Paris (Aria: Mi chiamano Mimi). The two leave together, singing of love.

ACT II: At Cafè Momus the crowd is enjoying Christmas Eve. Rodolfo and Mimi join his friends. Their celebration is interrupted by the arrival of Musetta -- Marcello's former mistress -- with her latest paramour, Alcindoro. Musetta decides to see if she still has power over Marcello, and sings provocatively (Musetta's Waltz: Quando m'en vo'). Marcello having yielded, she rids herself of the old man, and the lovers are reunited.


ACT III: Dawn at the "Barrière d'Enfer", one of the gates of Paris. Mimi begs Marcello for help: Rodolfo has accused her of faithlessness and deserted her. Marcello warns her that only lighthearted love, such as he and Musetta share, makes sense, but promises to speak to Rodolfo if she will return to Paris. Instead, she overhears Rodolfo admit that he loves her but fears she cannot recover from her illness while living in his poor quarters. Mimi tries to take her leave of him (Aria: Donde lieta), but the two agree to remain together until spring. The affair of Marcello and Musetta, however, proves stormy.


ACT IV: Rodolfo and Marcello cannot forget Mimi and Musetta, who have left them (Duet: O Mimi, tu più non torni). The other Bohemians arrive, but their joking is interrupted by Musetta, who brings the dying Mimi to spend her last moments with Rodolfo.

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