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La Boheme at the New York MET this Winter & how it Inspired the Broadway Show RENT

Updated on January 23, 2016
Catherine Stolfi profile image

Catherine is an independent research consultant at NASA Langley with degrees in English, Biology, and Environmental Science (M.S.).

Mimi Lighting her Candle in La Boheme Production
Mimi Lighting her Candle in La Boheme Production | Source

“525, 600 minutes: how do you measure, measure a year?” This is arguably one of the most famous lines from any Broadway show, but it's from a show that got its roots from another famous production, La Boheme. The song is “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway show RENT, which was inspired by the opera La Boheme. Recently, I saw La Boheme at Lincoln Center as a City Opera Production. It was my second Opera, and a nice detour from my first, Tosca, which is more of a gut wrenching, dramatic love story. La Boheme is romantic, bitter and humorous and has a story that stands the test of time. Even though this play’s music and performances were in a different language, the story was not lost on me since the storyline follows that of RENT. Much of the plot and the majority of the characters were the same, not to mention a character Mimi also asking to have her candle lit just as the character with the same name does in RENT. The cast of Rent also pays homage to its inspiration with the song,” La Vie Boheme” being sung midway through the play. The live orchestra music and singing were extremely enjoyable and quite moving, especially for those that don’t go to opera’s much, and the stage sets were also quite grand.

La Boheme was first performed in front of an Italian audience in 1896, music written by Giacomo Puccini and story by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. It is set in Paris, France in 1830 and based on “the bohemians,” taken from a word meaning “gypsy” in France. A Bohemian in Europe at the time was a person with unconventional social habits, such as being an impoverished artist, writer, musician or actor.

We are more familiar with the play RENT, which had its first performance in 1996. My first production of RENT was this past summer, but I did see the movie first. The movie featured characters that were in the original Broadway cast, with a few famous faces such as Rosario Dawson playing Mimi. The music is extraordinary, the acting was outstanding, not to mention the classic set and familiar songs. The story is also updated from its original content, the heart wrenching story about drug addiction and AIDs substitutes the tuberculosis epidemic in the opera, and New York City is the new setting for these poor bohemians who refuse to pay “this year’s rent, last year’s rent, next year’s rent.”

LA Boheme will be returning to the stage at the MET (Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center), in New York City this Winter, as well as some other locations around the country. The opera season begins each year November to May and ticket prices at the MET start as low as $27. Visit Ticket Liquidator for dates and locations. If you’ve never been to an opera, La Boheme is a great place to begin. As far as Opera’s go as having appealing traits for a younger generation, La Boheme is preeminent: a familiar story, humor, sex, love and relatable characters for a younger audience. Lincoln Center is known for their great productions and even greater deals for students so keep an eye out for these when tickets go on-sale. They have special Opera-for-All tickets, Student Rush tickets, and specially priced tickets day-of. You will not be disappointed by any of these New York City productions of La Boheme just be sure to bring your tissues (no spoilers in this article just in-case, no worries). It's touching to say the least.

Unfortunately, there are no current productions of RENT on Broadway or off-Broadway in New York but this famous New York City production always seems to find its way back. You can always watch the Hollywood version of this stage production in the movie RENT. It's currently showing streaming on Netflix.

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