Bohème Notebooks | OR 2018
April 1, 2018 | 16 Nisan 5778 | Easter | Pesach | The prime need in the Western World is to break the ice of rationalism and release the imaginative life once more. (Michael Tippett, 1940)
I share the following in honor of our company as OR starts tech week for its new production of La Bohème, April 6 & 8.
N.B.s from Murger’s The Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (Filiquarian ed., 2007), the original source of Puccini's and Illica's (and Leoncavallo's) opera.
Rudolphe refers to his post-Mimi mistress, “Madame Seraphine” as a “Stradivarius of Love.” Elsewhere he employs “a pyrotechnical display of madrigals” to amorous ends.
His friends Schaunard and Marcel respond to his purple-poetic, melodramatic outbursts with pejorative nicknames like “harmonica” and, respectively, “the bald forget-me-not.”
A partial catalogue of the works of Alexandre Schaunard:
“The Influence of Blue in Art” (or “Symphony in Blue”)*
“The Creditor’s March”
“The Death of the Damsel”
*N.B. Schaunard’s so-called or self-titled “blue” period pre-dates Picasso’s by well over 1/2
Marcel’s genre landscape “The Passage of the Red Sea” allegedly lay “on his easel for three years.”
Gustave Colline’s “great blue” coat, his “black swallow tail”* contained in its pockets:
Quarto vol. by Boyle
Three volume “Treatise” on “hyperphysical faculties”
Two volumes by the esoteric philosopher Swedenborg
“Essay of Man” by Pope
In the “foreign languages pocket”:
Two “Arabic grammars”
One Chinese “stock breeder manual”
*N.B. Puccini, while a "bohemian" roommate of Mascagni, pawned his overcoat in order to "lavish on a young dancer from La Scala" according to Puccini biographer, Conrad Wilson.
(The above costume sketches are for our new "Moulin Rouge / Toulouse-Lautrec"-inspired new production, courtesy of our brilliant designer, Maddie Peterson).
Rudolphe’s “great drama, The Avenger” may or may not have played at the "famed Odeon."
The Bohemians’ evening-length “humorous” salon entertainment most certainly did not play there.
“The Cape of Storms” is not the title of a work by one of the “famous artists” but the name of the quarterly days (“1st and 15th”) upon which creditors and landlords reminded Bohemians and other impoverished workers of the extent of the latter’s indebtedness to the former.