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About the Event
La Bohème, opera in four acts by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini (Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa) that premiered at the Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy, on February 1, 1896. The story, a sweetly tragic romance, was based on the episodic novel Scènes de la vie de bohème (1847–49; “Scenes of Bohemian Life”) by French writer Henri Murger. A success from the beginning, it is one of the most frequently performed of all operas.
Puccini’s fourth opera met obstacles on its way to the stage. Although the subject had come to his attention by the time he was finishing Manon Lescaut at the end of 1891, Puccini was not yet committed to writing an opera on the bohemian theme. His collaborator Luigi Illica was a strong advocate, however, and Puccini had decided by early 1893 to have him work out the scenario. In a chance meeting, Puccini learned that Ruggero Leoncavallo, one of his strongest rivals, had made great progress on his own La Bohème. The two composers took their arguments and counteraccusations to the popular press. Puccini’s resolve was strengthened, and Illica persuaded Giuseppe Giacosa (who, as a respected poet, had considered the subject unworthy) to work on the versification of the story. It took nearly three years for the librettists to satisfy Puccini and for him to compose the opera.