Friday, March 20, 2020

Losing it with "La Boheme"

So the other night -- Wednesday, this was -- I watched "La Boheme." Howard watched it with me -- I said something about Date Night and guilted him into it.

End result as we say in Buffalo ... I cried buckets.

I was astonished at myself. I did not think "La Boheme" would get me like that. I mean, I knew it was sad, but not in the way some other operas are sad, operas that hold a higher place in my lexicon. You forget how good this opera is, how good Puccini was.

That last scene!

I should mention this was not the Met production. I am having a rocky relationship with these Met free streams. I want to watch them but my timing is off. I end up looking for them too late and in this situation what happened was, I had it ready to go, and I could watch it, but there were no subtitles. I think after the allotted time they cut out the subtitles.

Which, maybe I could deal with that, but Howard could not. So I worked fast and said prayers to St. Anthony -- please, St. Anthony, find me a good "La Boheme" -- and I found this.

It stars Anna Netrebko. I  believe it was a little abridged, but that was fine for my purposes.

It was more than fine actually. Peeking at the Met production earlier that day, when it had subtitles, I was a little dismayed at how slowly the first act moved, with Rudolfo burning his play. I had no problems with it, but I worried Howard would.

You have to watch out for opera newbies! They are fragile creatures.

And so we watched this. At first I worried it was kind of broad, kind of jerky. But as the opera went on we both fell into it. That winter scene was beautifully filmed. My brother George, I always think of him when I see this, I have to tell him that. Once we were watching "La Boheme" at the Canadian Opera Company he said he loved how that part rang true to him, about how the couple is about to break up but they decide to stick together until the spring.

That is true to life! George is right.

Put it off! Kick that can down the road.

Anyway. That scene is beautiful, with the snow drifting down, and Anna Netrebko and Rollando Villazon, they're both so beautiful, you can't stand it. The snow is in their hair. That music. It's all so glorious.

Then you get the last act. I was broadsided by it. What gets me isn't really that Mimi is dying. It's how the other bohemians behave, standing around helplessly, doing what they can The one sells his coat, and Musetta sells her jewels -- I started getting tears in my eyes and I was desperately trying to blink them back. I totally lost it when Musetta began praying to Our Lady. Dear Musetta is such a toughie, and to see her humbling herself like that -- I was trying so hard not to cry I was gasping.

Finally I said something to Howard to try to explain myself and then I was actually sobbing. I could not stop.

Howard tried to reassure me. He said: "The software --"

Meaning that the software Puccini put in place still works.

The word "the software" is code with us for that. I have probably written about it. In this case it did not make me laugh. I only cried harder. But that only proved Howard was right.

This software, it still works!

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