Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of La bohème. It was last on stage 23 May—16 July 2015 as part of the Summer 2014/15 season.
When Rodolfo, a penniless poet, meets Mimì, a seamstress, they fall passionately in love. But their happiness is threatened when Rodolfo learns that Mimì is gravely ill.
Rodolfo, painfully aware that he cannot afford the medicine and care Mimì needs, separates from her. At the end of her life Mimì returns to Rodolfo's garret. They ecstatically embrace – but, despite the care of Rodolfo and his friends, Mimì dies.
La bohème had a lukewarm reception at its premiere in 1896, but its fortunes almost immediately changed. Giacomo Puccini's romantic depiction of bohemian Paris, with memorable music and a love story drawn from everyday life, has captivated audiences round the world, making La bohème one of the best-loved of all operas. It was first performed in Covent Garden in 1897 and has had more than 500 performances here since.
John Copley's production 1974 production, with wonderfully detailed designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman, brings Paris of the 1830s to life – everything from the lively Latin Quarter, where hawkers and traders ply their wares, to a drafty attic where impoverished artists live hand-to-mouth. Rodolfo and Mimì's love story is given moving expression through Puccini's score, from their first meeting in Act I (a scene which contains some of the composer’s most exquisite arias and duets) to their poignant reunion in Act IV. These moments of emotional intensity are contrasted with the colourful spectacle of the Café Momus and surrounding streets in Act II, where Puccini presents a cross-section of Parisian society in all its noise and vibrancy.
News and features
20 June 2017
Our favourites of the undisputed kings of opera, from Idomeneo to Peter Grimes via Siegfried and Otello.
11 June 2015
Backstage films from the 2015 live relay of La bohème, including rehearsal footage and exclusive interviews.
11 June 2015
What did you think of our live relay of John Copley's production of Puccini's tragic romance?
3 June 2015
Share your recommendations of the show you think is perfect for a newcomer.
La bohème to be relayed live to cinemas around the world and BP Big Screens in the UK on 10 June 20152 June 2015
John Copley’s iconic production of Puccini’s opera stars Anna Netrebko and Joseph Calleja.
29 May 2015
Is clapping after an aria, pas de deux or solo an appropriate display of appreciation, or does it shatter the illusion of theatre?
La bohème (French pronunciation: [la bɔ.ɛm], Italian: [la boˈɛm]) is an opera in four acts, composed by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème by Henri Murger. The world premiere performance of La bohème was in Turin on 1 February 1896 at the Teatro Regio, conducted by the young Arturo Toscanini; its U.S. premiere took place the following year, 1897, in Los Angeles. Since then, La bohème has become part of the standard Italian opera repertory and is one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide. In 1946, fifty years after the opera's premiere, Toscanini conducted a performance of it on radio with the NBC Symphony Orchestra. This performance was eventually released on records and on compact disc. It is the only recording of a Puccini opera by its original conductor (see below).