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Gigli in Puccini’s La bohème, complete recording part 2, La Scala orch. c. 1932

November 16, 2010
Beniamino Gigli

Streaming audio, Gigli in La bohème, recorded c. 1932.  Acts III and IV.  Acts I and II are available in a separate post.  The Orchestra of La Scala Milan conducted by Umberto Berrettoni.  Singers: Beniamino Gigli (as Rodolfo), Menotti, Poli, Albanese, Baracchi and Baronti. 

La bohème

Opera in four scenes.  Music by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924).  Libretto by Guiseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica based on Scenes de la  vie de bohème (1845) a novel by Henry Mürger and on the play La vie de bohème (1849) by Mürger and Theodore Barriere.  Composed 1893-5 and revised in 1896.

First performance 1 February 1896, Teatro Regio, Turin.


A cold winter’s day outside a tavern on the edge of Paris.  A weak Mimi looks for Marcello.  When she meets him coming out of the tavern she complains about Rodolfo’s jealousy.  Enter Rodolfo and Mimi leaves without speaking to him.  Rodolfo reveals to Marcello that he is not jealous, but disturbed at the decline in Mimi’s health.  Mimi is seriously ill.  Mimi is heard coughing and sobbing and Musetta is heard laughing inside the tavern.  Marcello goes back into the tavern.  In a love duet Rodolfo and Mimi decide that even though they love each other they must part.  Marcello and Musetta come out of the tavern arguing.  The Act ends with a quartet in which  Marcello and Musetta argue but Rodolfo and Mimi decide to stay together until spring.

Act IV

The garrett as in Act I, a few months later.  Rodolfo and Marcello discuss their feelings for Mimi and Rodolfo.  Enter Colline and Schaunard and the four eventually begin a mock duel.  Musetta appears with the news that Mimi is outside and is ill.  Mimi enters and the Bohemians pool their money to be able to pay for Mimi to see a doctor.  Colline sings an aria saying farewell to his coat, which he has volunteered to pawn.  Rodolfo and Mimi are left alone and they sing about their first meeting.  When the others return Mimi dies peacefully.  Not realising this Rodolfo continues to try to make her more comfortable.  Schaunard discovers that she is dead.  The opera ends with Rodolfo’s expressions of grief.


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.  The recording has been transferred from shellac disks by Barry Mitchell.

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