Opera in four acts
Libretto by L. Illik and D. Giacosa
Rudolf, the poet
Alcindor, State Counselor
Students, grisettes, townspeople, merchants and merchants, waiters in cafes, boys, girls, etc.
Time: circa 1830.
Mansard in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The poet Rudolph and the painter Marcel unsuccessfully try to work. The room is cold, in addition, friends are hungry. But they are humorous in their misfortunes. The chilled fireplace is melted by the voluminous Rudolph’s manuscript. The philosopher Collin arrives, completely stiff in the street, and behind him musician Shonar, who managed to get provisions, wine and firewood. Liven up, friends cheerfully play the householder, who came to demand an apartment rent, and, having spoiled it, go to the zucchini. At home there is only one Rudolph – he must finish the article, but he can not do it. A hesitant knock at the door is heard. This Mimi, who lives
Latin Quarter on Christmas Eve. Noisy animation reigns in the streets and squares. Rudolph with Mimi, Marcel, Schonar and Collen, joking fun, sit down at a table in a cafe. In the midst of the feast appears Musette, Marcel’s girlfriend. With her an important old man, her rich admirer, Alcindor. Musette left Marcel – she was fed up with the life of bohemia, but she loves him as before. And Marcel, wishing to take revenge on his beloved for treason, pretends not to notice her. Musetta angers at his demented indifference, but the presence of Alcindor interferes with her. Finally the way out is found: she sends her admirer with a fabricated errand and cheerfully embraces Marcel. At this time the servant brings the account. Schonar discovers with horror that he has no more money. But Musette also finds a way out: she tells the servant that her acquaintance will pay the bill when she returns.
Zucchini at the Paris outpost. Early February morning. Funny voices are heard from the tavern, Musetta laughs. Marcel writes a picture, which should decorate the sign of the vegetable marrow. Mimi came here to consult him. She complains about Rudolph, who with his jealousy made their life unbearable. Mimi’s story is interrupted by bouts of coughing. Seeing the approaching Rudolph, she hides. In a conversation with Marcel Rudolph first accused Mimi of frivolity and coquetry, but then reveals the truth: his beloved is sick with consumption. Sobbing Mimi gives her presence. In vain, having remained with Mimi alone, Rudolph gently console her. Having learned the terrible truth, she insists on separation. Covered with deep sorrow, lovers say goodbye. For a short time, Marcel and Musetta enjoyed happiness. A quarrel breaks out between them.
Marcel and Rudolph in their attic again trying unsuccessfully to work. They miss the beloved. Unexpectedly, the disturbed Musette appears. Mimi came with her, but the poor thing is so bad that she can not go upstairs. Excited friends make Mimi and carefully put her. The room is still cold, and Musette gives her earrings to buy something for Mimi and invite a doctor. All except Rudolph, leave. Mimi is happy: she is with her beloved again, hears his tender words again. But her minutes are numbered. Suddenly she starts to choke. Friends run into Rudolph’s cry. Gradually Mimi calms down. Rudolph curtains the window so that the light does not wake her, but his beloved is already dead.