This is exactly how Puccini's La bohème makes you cry

29 November 2018, 13:51

By Elizabeth Davis

We spoke to conductor Alexander Joel and soprano Natalya Romaniw about how Puccini tugs at those heart-strings in his famous tragic opera.

This winter, English National Opera transports its audiences to a 19th-century Parisian winter with a production of Puccini's heart-breaking opera La bohème.

We caught up with conductor Alexander Joel and soprano Natalya Romaniw, who plays Mimì – and asked them to explain exactly how Puccini manipulates us into dissolving into tears, every darn time.

There are a number of themes that recur throughout the opera – one associated with the character of Mimì (which you can hear in her opening aria – at the top of page), others associated with love… and death.

But it's not just about the melodies that reappear, Puccini tells us what's going on in the story through his use of harmony – and sometimes it's the exact of opposite of what the characters *say* is happening.

Of course, the most heart-breaking moment of all is the final scene – and Mimì's death. Just listen to how Puccini manipulates us to empathise with Rodolfo and Mimì's situation.

Hankies at the ready…

La bohème is at English National Opera until 22 February