La Boheme Essay, Research Paper
Music affects our emotions and has much to do with our everyday lives. Music has always and will be a part of my life. I would have to say that without music there is no life – something is missing in our lives without music. If there were no music society we would only have people speaking to each other, and there would be no entertainment. The form of musical entertainment that I attended was the opera, La Boheme, composed by Giacommo Puccini and Libretto by Giuseppe and Luigi Illica. The opera took place at The New City Opera on November 10, 2001. La Boheme takes place in 1830, 19th century Paris around Christmas time. This opera tells the tragic love story of a young Bohemian, Rodolfo, who finds a love interest in his neighbor, Mimi. The opera consists of an extremely talented cast with the accompaniment of an amazing orchestra.
The orchestra was well amplified throughout the Lincoln Center Opera House because it was clearly heard from our upper mezzanine seating. Sunken down below in front of the stage is where I found the opera orchestra. The opera orchestra, which is quite similar to a full symphony orchestra, was starting to warm-up as I entered the “jewelry box”. In the orchestra pit I found aerophones, which included, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, trombones, as well as a flute, piccolo, english horn, bass clarinet, contrabassoon, bass trombone, and a tuba; chordophones, which included the first and second violins, violas, cellos, and a harp; membranophones were made up of the percussion and a timpani. The dynamics range from piano to extreme fortissimo throughout the four act opera. This helped the audience grasp the feelings and emotion that the characters were trying to display. As I was listening to the orchestra I couldn’t help but really focus on the various types of aerophones. They greatly improved the intensity and helped the theme and plot of the story move along smoothly.
My favorite part of the opera would have to be the duet present in Act I, shared between the two main characters, Rodolfo and Mimi. To hear these two characters singing in unison was “music to my ears”. Mimi, the soprano, hit all her notes beautifully and seemed to run smoothly through her parts. Rodolfo, who represented a tenor, expressed emotion and great character. This piece was where I seemed to become engulfed in their early blossoming relationship. I became entranced in their vocals and at times I would replace my self with Mimi’s character. The orchestra and the singers flowed together in a way indescribable creating a level of great intimacy. I have always been extremely impressed with the human voice. I value it as one of the most treasured instruments.
The main attraction for myself was the non-evident combined aria and recitative in the production. In most opera there is an aria, or overflow of melody following the recitative. This helps express the appropriate feelings needed for the audience to grasp the key aspects of the opera. Also, it helps bring the plot to a halt and the characters then are able to reflect upon what is occurring in the story. Puccini was much more concerned with his librettos and would rather use the same material in each of his acts. At the conclusion of many songs I caught myself wanting to stand to my feet and applaud and release my excited emotions. This is why I feel that the opera was performed brilliantly. Puccini also included verismo – realism – which created a more realistic portrayal throughout the opera. This aspect helped move the opera at a good pace and much important dialogue was expressed as well. Verismo was key in creating appropriate feelings from both the characters as well as the audience. Verismo also helped me relate better to the plot because it gave me that “true to life” feeling Puccino was looking for.
When put up against the other composers of the Romantic Period studied in class, Puccini seems the most grounded and realistic. As mentioned previous, his great interest in versimo was key. By creating such real life characters the audience is able to relate more to the actors grabbing their full attention. Other composers of this particular period such as Guiseppi Verdi, one of the most popular of all opera composers, was much different than his fellow composer Puccini. He focused much more on composing for the elite, and wanted his character creations to be obsessed with the idea of passion. Therefore, making most of his early conventional pieces overly dramatic and serious. If Puccini was much more conventional and focused more on the idea of recitative and aria, I don’t think I would have appreciated La Boheme as much. By concerning himself more on the dramatic qualities expressed in the libretto Puccino created something unique and more acceptable.
All in all I thoroughly enjoyed Puccini’s La Boheme. After watching this opera I became much more familiar with The New City Opera and the Lincoln Center Opera House. I not only learned much more about opera itself; I also was able to discover a new personal musical liking. I have a found a new love interest in the opera. It is true to say that music has a large emotional effect on one’s self. After exiting the opera I was in a completely different mind set than I was upon entering. Even though I had just sat through a tragic love story, I was smiling. I was smiling because as a result of my reaction to the opera, I realized that music does indeed have a huge effect on our personal life no matter what way you look at it, and this makes me happy.