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La Bohème - New Theatre, Oxford

By Millie Zhou

On 30th November, I was kindly invited to the opening and press night of La bohème, an opera composed by Italian composer Giacamo Puccini. Taking place at New Theatre Oxford on George Street, opening night was packed as spectators flocked to the entrance in anticipation with press drinks in the iconic piano bar. As the show was soon to start, we took our seats inside the theatre in awe of the orchestra performing an overture. The crimson red velvet curtains and dimmed lights set the scene and the anticipation was palpable for one of opera's most popular and unforgettable stories. 


La bohème had its world premiere on 1st February 1896 and is a classic tale of love, loss, and friendship. Puccini’s glorious romantic score offers an exceptional musical and theatrical treat. The beginning of Act I portrays 19th century bohemian life in Paris on a cold Christmas Eve. A penniless poet, Rodolfo, receives a visit by a neighbour, Mimì, looking for a candlelight. It was love at first sight for Rodolfo as the passion in his heart burned brighter than any flame. This begins a timeless love story that follows Mimì and Rodolfo’s blossoming love in joyful beginnings and changing of seasons. Analogous to the passing of seasons, Mimì and Rodolfo are later threatened with a force greater than love, in which heartbreak and loss is inevitable.


As a touching tale of love and loss, it is no wonder that La bohème has become part of the standard Italian opera repertory. La bohème continues to be performed worldwide, and audiences at New Theatre Oxford and beyond are left glossy-eyed in remembrance that it is better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.

Check out New Theatre Oxford bursting with shows this Christmas!




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