La bohème

Welcome to the La bohème Education Resources page!

The final ACCESS OPERA of the 2018–2019 season is one of the most enduring works in all of opera: Puccini’s La bohème, April 25, 7:00 p.m., at the Long Center.

Deep in the heart of Paris’s Latin Quarter—where music and dancing swirl nightly at the Café Momus— Mimì, a lovely seamstress of delicate health, meets handsome poet Rodolfo. Eccentric singer Musetta flirts and feuds with painter Marcello. And philosopher Colline and musician Schaunard do their best to distract the landlord from the rent.

Puccini’s sweeping story of young bohemians struggling to fulfill their dreams and find true love contains some of the most beloved music in all of opera. La bohème is frequently referenced in popular culture—from the Academy Award-winning film Moonstruck to the Tony-winning musical Rent—making the story and its music instantly recognizable to even newcomers to opera.

This exquisite production is a traditional telling of the classic tale, from the iconic Christmas Eve panorama in the riotous Café Momus scene in Act II to the dreamy snowscape at the city’s gate in Act III.  The City of Light’s snowy streets, drafty tenements, and nightclub diversions come to life in a production certain to linger in the memory long after its final heartrending scene.

Approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes, including one 25-minute intermission
Sung in Italian with projected English supertitles.
PARENT GUIDE: Appropriate for viewers of all ages

La bohème Curriculum

Access Opera: La bohème PDF Lesson Materials

Access Opera: La bohème PowerPoint

Use redemption code: Boheme2019

Austin Opera’s Access Opera: La bohème curriculum is an innovative multi-media based unit, complete with TEKS aligned lessons, activities, assessments and an Animated Listening Map. This curriculum is designed so you can teach La bohème in the time frame that works best for you and your students. Designate an entire class period and share the complete lesson using the accompanying PowerPoint. Teach it in chunks.  Here is what that might look like:

  • Day 1 – Background (composer info, synopsis) and first listen of featured music selection
  • Day 2 – Listen a 2nd time, including suggested activities/assessments from the lesson
  • Day 3 & beyond – Listen to some of the alternate versions; try a new activity/assessment; explore SEL connection; Go over Audience Etiquette materials

About the Story

La bohème: At a Glance – A quick overview of the opera
This document includes pronunciations for the main characters in the opera.


Opera in Brief: La bohème
A brief telling of the opera story with animated drawings.

La bohème STORY – in TWO minutes!
A humorous retelling of the opera story in TWO minutes by the New Zealand trio Sol3Mio.

La bohème Animated film
A short animated film explaining the story of the opera by SWNS Digital.  38 seconds.

La bohème film
An interesting synopsis of the story, drawn with dry-erase markers.
NOTE: The character name “Schaunard” is pronounced incorrectly.

Additional Resources

Classics for Kids La bohème Activity Sheet
This resource includes a short biography of Puccini, a synopsis of the story, and a fun word search. – La bohème facts for kids
This webpage includes a short bio about Henri Murger, the author of the book that the opera is based on, Scenes from Bohemian Life.

STUDY GUIDES from other opera companies

Boston Lyric Opera
Page 8 – A nice description of the Science of Sound, as it applies to the voice and the act of hearing.
Page 16 – Great description of the “REAL WORLD” of La bohème.  This section answers some great questions like:
“Are the characters of La bohème based on real people?”
“What is the Latin Quarter?”
“How did Mimi die?”
Page 18 – The RENT Connection – A side by side look comparing La bohème to the musical  RENT.
Page 24-35 – Extended Lesson Plans for Grades 9-12, with Language Arts objectives, including analyzation of text, story, characters, as well as writing prompts.

Metropolitan Opera: A Guide to La bohème
The activities in this guide address several aspects of La bohème:
* Puccini’s use of vocal and instrumental music to depict his central characters and their relationships
* The recurrence of musical themes in the opera
* The opera as a unified work of art

Toledo Opera
Pages 8 & 9 – Discussion questions and guide sheet for writing a review of the performance

Pittsburgh Opera
A compact 2 pages of background info on the opera, composer, sources, along with a synopsis.

Videos and Musical Excerpts

La bohème – The complete opera

This recording features Mirella Freni (1935), one of the leading lyric sopranos of her era.
Act 1 – 0:56 Act 2 – 33:56 Act 3 – 52:31 Act 4 – 1:16:05

CAST:  Mimi: Mirella Freni. Musetta: Adriana Martino. Rodolfo: Gianni Raimondi. Marcello: Rolando Panerai. Schaunard: Gianni Maffeo. Colline: Ivo Vinco. Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Alla Scala. Conductor: H. Von Karajan. Direceted and designed by Franco Zeffirelli.

La bohème – A film version (2008)
A cinematic production of the opera.
Conducted by Bertrand de Billy Directed by Robert Dornhelm
Starring Anna Netrebko as Mimì
Rolando Villazón as Rodolfo
Nicole Cabell as Musetta
George Von Bergen as Marcello
Vitalij Kowaljow as Colline
Adrian Eröd as Schaunard
Ioan Holender as Alcindoro

Puccini: La bohème – The Royal Opera House, London
A 2-minute highlight video of a production form The Royal Opera House, 2013

Puccini: La bohème Act 2 Finale (with curtain call)
The final scene and tableau from Act II of Puccini’s “La Bohème.” Conductor: Stefano Ranzani. Production: Franco Zeffirelli. The clip is taken from 2014 Live in HD transmission from the Metropolitan Opera.
Includes the children’s chorus, adult chorus, and band on stage.

La bohème: “Che gelida Manina” and “Si, mi chiamano Mimi” (1986)
Luciano Pavarotti, tenor and Fiamma Izzo d’Amico, soprano

This video clip includes English subtitles.

In the first act of the opera, the poet Rodolfo sings this love song (“Che gelida manina”) to Mimi, the young woman who has come to his attic room on Christmas Eve searching for a match to relight her candle.

When Rodolfo’s candle also blows out, the two are left alone in his dark room, lit only by the moonlight. She drops her room key, and the two clumsily struggle to find it. Rodolfo pretends to search and grabs her hand.  He serenades her, singing about his aspirations and his love for her.

When Rodolfo reveals to Mimi that he has fallen in love with her, he wants to know all about her. He asks her to tell him something about her and her life. Mimi’s reply begins by telling him she is called Mimi (“Si, mi chiamano Mimi”), but her true name is Lucia.

“Che gelida manina”

La bohème: “Che gelida manina” – sung by Ramón Vargas, tenor
Ramón Vargas (Rodolfo), Angela Gheorghiu (Mimì). Conductor: Nicola Luisotti. Production: Franco Zeffirelli. Clip taken from the 2008 Live in HD transmission.  Metropolitan Opera.

Lyrics and Translation for “Che gelida manina” from Puccini’s La bohème
Translation by Peter J. Nasou

La bohème: “Che gelida manina” – sung by a young Luciano Pavarotti, tenor
A young Pavarotti sings the aria with piano, 1965.

Luciano Pavarotti and the appeal of La bohème
In this video, Pavarotti explains the appeal of the opera La bohème, and how it became a “good luck” opera for his career.  Pavarotti always sang Rodolfo when he made his first appearance an opera house. It was his Met debut role in 1968. Mirella Freni was his Mimi. He sang the part 34 times with the company.  This concert version of the aria “Che gelida manina” is from Pavarotti’s 25th anniversary tour performance at Madison Square Garden.

“Si, mi chiamano Mimi”

La bohème“Si, mi chiamano Mimi” – sung by Mirella Freni, soprano
This video features Mirella Freni, soprano singing the role of Mimi at La Scala, 1965.
It includes English subtitles.  Rodolfo: Gianni Raimondi

Lyrics and Translation for Si, mi chiamano Mimi” from Puccini’s La bohème

La bohème: “Si, mi chiamano Mimi” – sung by Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
Mimi’s aria from Puccini’s La Bohème exquisitely sung by the renowned Dame Kiri Te kanawa

“O soave fanciulla”

La bohème: “O soave fanciulla” 
This video is a concert performance of the beautiful love duet from La bohème sung by Anna Netrebko, soprano and Jonas Kaufmann, tenor.  This music is also featured in the following video clip from the movie Moonstruck, featuring Cher and Nicholas Cage.

Moonstruck and La bohème
An excerpt from the movie Moonstruck, featuring music from Puccini’s La bohème.
Cher and Nicholas Cage star in this American romantic comedy film directed by Norman Jewison.  It is about a widowed, 37-year-old, Italian-American woman who falls in love with her fiancé’s estranged, hot-tempered younger brother. Cher won the Oscar for Best Actress in 1988 for her portrayal of Loretta Castorini.

Opera Shorts – Animated short films

Students were invited into the Royal Opera House to immerse themselves in what opera is and how it is made. The resulting films are sometimes about the art form and sometimes about a specific opera but they all exude a refreshing and playful enthusiasm for opera’s potential to tell transformative stories. Find out more:

An Opera Short (#2)The Opera Machine – inspired by “O soave fanciulla
from La bohème
Doug Hindson has been inspired by the aria ‘O soave fanciulla’ from Puccini’s La bohème and created the ‘Opera Machine’ which beautifully represents the power of the human voice using a little Lego, an old record player and a lot of creativity.

An Opera Short (#4) – inspired by “O soave fanciulla” from La bohème
The fourth animation in the 2014 Opera Shorts series is based on Puccini’s La bohème. Created by Michael Parkin, Edwood Burn and Jacob Read, students on the Illustration and Animation course at Kingston University.

An Opera Short (#6) – inspired by “O soave fanciulla” from La bohème
Opera Short #6 was created by Dahye Kim & Alice Cui, students on the Illustration and Animation course at Kingston University.
Set to the duet ‘O soave fanciulla’ from La bohème, the animation expresses a story through silhouettes that appear like sound waves.

A Review of recordings of “O Soave Fanciulla” from La bohème 
An interesting article with links to several recordings of this famous love duet from La bohème.

Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli
Read about the life and accomplishments of this amazing Italian tenor.

The RENT Connection

La bohème, the opera and RENT
A simple comparison of the main characters in both shows.
NOTE: This video contains references to mature subjects.  Preview for appropriateness for your students.

La bohème reimagined
Many opera companies now are doing new interpretations of classic operas.  This 1-minute highlight reel of the new imagining of the opera at the National Opera of Paris.

Follow the Musical Score

The following two videos allow you to see the vocal score of the music while you are listening.

“Quando m’en vo’” Follow the Score – Anna Netrebko, soprano

“Si, mi chiamano Mimi” Follow the Score – Angela Gheorghiu, soprano


“I just can’t think of another opera where you see it so strongly…such a sort of human sense of friendship and what it means to be a good friend.  The kind of love you see in this story is not just the great love story between two couples, but it is also this group of friends who love each other.”
– Tess Altiveros, soprano

Join Austin Opera in celebrating friendship, a central theme in our upcoming production of Puccini’s beloved classic, La bohème.  Whether you are a poet (like Rodolfo), a visual artist (like Marcello),
a musician (like Schaunard) or a philosopher (like Colline), we encourage you to share your understanding of friendship.

What is friendship all about?                                     What does it mean to be a good friend?
Why are friends so valuable?                                     How can you be a better friend?

  1. Create an expression of friendship using an artistic form of your choice, such as poetry, visual art, music, video, etc. For inspiration, see the list of question prompts below.
  2. SHARE your response with us! 
    Take a picture to share

    TWITTER – @AustinOperaEd
    EMAIL – [email protected]

Email us for pick up
[email protected]

For those of you in the city of Austin, we can arrange to pick up (between April 1-17) your creations for display at the ACCESS OPERA: La bohème on Thursday, April 25th, 7PM.

Bring your creation with you to the ACCESS OPERA: La bohème event
Thursday, April 25th, 7PM
** Send us an email at [email protected] to let us know what you are bringing so we can display it appropriately.

We can’t wait to be inspired by your expressions of friendship.  We look forward to sharing them with the Austin Opera family as we celebrate Puccini’s masterpiece, La bohème.

Debra Erck
Austin Opera, Director of Education
[email protected]


1. A true friend…

2. What qualities do you look for in your friends?

3. What is the nicest thing a friend has ever done for you? How did it make you feel?

4. What are the responsibilities of friendship?

5. When is it challenging to be a good friend? How do you handle those situations?

6. How can you be a better friend to your classmates?

7. Share a favorite memory with your best friend.

8. Would you rather have many casual friends or a few close friends?

9. How is friendship different than other types of relationships?

10. What was your first impression of your best friend?

11. What is friendship really about?

12. What is your favorite thing to share with your friends?

13. What would the world be like if people treated one another like friends all the time?

14. Can friends ever be like family? Why or why not?

15. Where is your favorite place to go with your best friend? What do you do there?

16. What makes a friend a “best friend”?

17. How important are your friends to your happiness?

18. What are some things you’ve learned from your friends?

19. Write a story about you and your best friend going on an adventure.

20. What would you suggest to someone who has trouble making new friends?

21. Have you ever made friends with someone you didn’t get along with? How did it happen?

22. Have you ever lost a friend? How did you feel?

23. How can you show appreciation for your friends?

24. Who is your best friend? Why do you get along so well with him or her?

25. Write a poem about your best friend’s best qualities.

26. Describe your best friend in three words. Why did you choose these descriptions?

27. How do you think your best friend would describe you? Would it be an accurate description?

28. How do you choose your friends?

29. Can girls and boys be friends with one another? Why or why not?

30. Where did you meet your best friend?

31. What is the nicest thing you’ve ever done for a friend?

32. Have you ever been stuck in a fight between two friends? What did you do to fix the friendships?

33. How do you fulfill your role as a friend?

34. Write about something fun you’d like to do with your best friend.

35. Why are friends so valuable?

36. Write a story about going on a trip with your best friend.

37. What are some good ways to make new friends? What is your favorite way?

38. What are some qualities you have in common with your friends?

39. What are your favorite things to do with your friends?

40. What does it mean to be a good friend?