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1 (Puccini: La bohème). Sop. Mimì is a seamstress, ill with consumption (tuberculosis). After his friends have gone to the Café Momus on Christmas Eve, Mimì knocks on Rodolfo's door. She is on her way to her own room but her candle has blown out and she asks for a light. In a fit of coughing, she has to rest on a chair, dropping her candle which again goes out, and now Rodolfo's candle is also extinguished. She drops her key on the floor and as they search for it their hands meet. They tell each other of their lives and their hopes for the future. Mimì explains that her real name is Lucia and she embroiders silk and satin. They fall in love and hear his friends calling from the street below. They join them at the Café Momus, where Rodolfo buys her a pink bonnet. But, as the weeks go by, they quarrel because of his jealousy and his anxiety about her illness. Mimì explains all this to Marcello and she and Rodolfo say a sad farewell. When Mimì is dying, Musetta brings her to the attic again to Rodolfo. They reminisce about their time together—and the pink bonnet. Their friends all go out on various missions, in order to leave them together to reavow their love—but it is too late. Suddenly, they realize that Mimì is dead. Arias: Sì. Mi chiamano Mimì (‘Yes. They call me Mimì’); Donde lieta uscì (‘Back to the place I left’); duets (with Rodolfo); O soave fanciulla (‘Oh! Lovely girl!’); Sono andati? (‘Have they gone?’). Created (1896) by Cesira Ferrani (who had earlier created Puccini's Manon and was chosen by Toscanini as the first Italian Mélisande). It has been suggested that Puccini was in love with Ferrani, but as far as can be ascertained, it seems that she was herself in love with Toscanini. Eminent Mimìs over the years have included Alice Esty, Nellie Melba, Geraldine Farrar, Licia Albanese (a famous recording with Beniamino Gigli), Bidú Sayāo, Grace Moore, Elsie Morison, Renata Tebaldi, Maria Callas, Victoria de los Angeles, Renato Scotto, Anna Moffo, Mirella Freni, Montserrat Caballé, Katia Ricciarelli, Kiri te Kanawa, Leontina Vaduva, and Angela Gheorghiu, a veritable roll-call of dramatic sopranos.

2 (Leoncavallo: La bohème). Sop. A seamstress. She is in love with Rodolfo, but to escape poverty she accepts the proposal of the wealthy Count Paolo. At Christmas she and Rodolfo are reunited, but Mimì, now mortally ill, dies in their attic. Created (1897) by Elisa Frandini.

Subjects: Opera.

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