Quando M’en Vo – La Boheme – Puccini – Track 4

The First Line Translates ” When Walking Alone On The Streets”.

The song Quando M’en Vo is also known as Musetta’s Waltz and comes from the second act of “La Bohème”.

The opera is based on the novel ‘Scènes de la vie de bohème ‘ by Henri Murger. La bohème is a four act Italian Opera composed by Giacomo Puccini. The world premiere was in February 1896 in Turin. The word ‘bohemian’ describes the non-traditional lifestyle of impoverished artists; writers; journalists; musicians and actors in major European cities.

Main cast:

Mimi – a seamstress – soprano
Rodolfo – a poet – tenor
Musetta – a singer – soprano
Marcello-a painter – baritone
Schaunard – a musician – baritone
Colline – a philosopher – bass
Benoit – a landlord – bass
Alcindoro – a sugar daddy – bass
Parpignol – a Toy seller – tenor


Act I
Four friends share an apartment in Paris; Marcello, Rodolfo, Colline and Schaunard they are broke and cold but Schaunard plays for an eccentric English Lord who instructed him to play his violin for his parrot until it died and he earns enough from this to buy provisions and offers to pay for food at the Café Momus to celebrate his good fortune. It is Christmas Eve and Benoit the Landlord tries to collect the rent, they ply him with cheap wine and three of the men go out to the Café Momus leaving Rodolfo behind as he needs to finish an article.
A soft knock on the door disturbs him and he opens it to a lovely, pale young woman who asks him to re-light her candle. He invites her in and she promptly faints. She is called Mimi but her real name is Lucia she sings the famous aria “Mi chiamano Mimi” she embroiders to earn a living, Rodolfo is completely smitten by her and when his friends return to persuade him to come with them she asks if she can go with him, they leave singing of love ‘O soave fanciulla’ (Oh Lovely Girl).

Giacomo Puccini

Act II
At the Café Momus in the Latin district the friends eat a huge supper and Rodolfo introduces everyone to Mimi. Musetta makes a flamboyant entrance with her wealthy benefactor Alcindoro. Marcello tears Musettas character to shreads, Musetta notices him and is annoyed that he will not look at her. She creates a scene smashing a plate, Musetta turns her full charms on Marcello, she sings ‘Quando men vo’ boasting how everyone watches her when she walks down the street and their looks fill her with desire.
Mimi feels sorry for her and Rodolfo explains that Marcello had once loved her but she left him for the wealthy Alcindoro. Musetta pretends to have a dreadful pain in her foot and sends Alcindoro off to fix her shoe. Marcello is undone with her flirtations and embraces her. When the bill comes the Bohemians don’t have sufficient funds to pay so slyly Musetta suggests they combine bills and let a dumbfounded Alcindoro pay it.

Street Scene From La Boheme

Marcello is living in a tavern and paints for the innkeeper, Mimi appears coughing violently she tells him of her hard life with Rodolfo who abandoned her the night before. Marcello confesses that Rodolfo is inside. Rodolfo wakes up and comes out looking for Marcello, Mimi hides, she hears Rodolfo confess his jealousy and reasons for leaving Mimi were a sham, he fears she is being consumed by a deadly illness (most likely consumption). Rodolfo in poverty can’t do anything to help and hopes his pretended unkindness will encourage her to find a wealthy suitor. Mimi’s coughing alerts him to her presence and they agree to stay together until Spring. Meantime Marcello hears Musetta laughing and goes to find her, they quarrel about her flirting.

Act IV
Some months later Marcello and Rodolfo are trying to work, they talk about their girlfriends who have left them and found wealthy lovers. Schaunard and Colline arrive with a frugal dinner to share. Musetta appears she found Mimi in the street that day, severely weakened by her illness, her wealthy lover had left her and haggard and pale they help her to bed. The friends leave to pawn their belongings to buy medicine. Mimi tells Rodolfo that her love for him is her whole life ‘Sono andati’. As Musetta prays Mimi dies leaving Rodolfo weaping with anguish.

This is a video of me singing the aria “Quando M’en Vo” accompanied by Russell Lomas from a recital in Rochdale in 2014. You can download a copy of the song on Amazon or iTunes from my album Canzoni D’Amore.

76 thoughts on “Quando M’en Vo – La Boheme – Puccini – Track 4

  1. Not much happiness in that tale! I guess I better work harder to ensure I am not stricken by consumption!

    As for the performance…lovely as usual!

    Have a great week!

    1. Thanks Steve, they stopped vaccinating against TB the year I was due to have it. I was pleased at the time (no needles) but now knowing this story and how many people used to die of tuberculosis I’m not so sure. You have a great week too.

      Best wishes

      1. Well Charlotte, I think you are in the clear! I also would not worry too much about coming down with a case of rickets or having to perform in an iron lung either!

        So you can enjoy your weekend!

  2. Beautiful. I’m always moved by your posts and performances. Stunning gown too.
    Being part Italian, I’m woefully ignorant of Pucini and need to be educated. For a long time I thought La donna è mobile was “Donna Inna Mobile Home”.. 🙂

    All the best

    Jim Zee


  3. I certainly enjoyed this Heavenly Singing, and shared it on Facebook. I hope it goes viral. May the Lord continue to bless you, as you sing to His glory, and dressed most approprietly for the occasion.

  4. Charlotte thank you for this nice article and this fantastic interpretation. I listen to your cd 1 once daily minimum and I can not get enough! I already thought you were fabulous last year and you get to be even week after week! I’m sure that even the angels are silent to listen to you!

    1. Thank you Janice, my friend and photographer Sam Pyatt likes to take mood shots he says I smile the same in nearly every photo, it’s quite funny because you can see me suppressing a smile in lots of the images he sent me, I was told to say ‘cheese’ too often I guess ( lol ) so now I do it on auto pilot 🙂

      Best wishes

  5. When we were kids we used to have a lot of fun with the improbable scenarios of operas. We thought it was particularly funny the way passages of recitative are followed by passionate outbursts (“Would you like a cup of tea? No thank you, I have a stomach upset? Ah, you too? My grandfather has one. Your grandfather? Dio mio! – clutches chest and staggers, bursts out into aria – Ah, now I see it! He is your grandfather!” and so on.) Thinking about this, about your age and about the average age of opera-lovers here in Aust, I can’t help thinking that the time is right for some radical reimagining of the great operas. Not just tinkering with times and settings (I saw a Welsh National Opera version of “The Magic Flute” in which Sarastro was in a wheelchair with an intravenous drip up) but complete reworking so that the great and beautiful is retained and the human drama made real for our age. I don’t quite know how this would be done, but the Aust choreographer Graeme Murphy has done a reworking of “Swan Lake” in which the cast is entirely male, and it is so moving, exciting, erotically-charged. I wish someone could do this for opera which is in danger of becoming a sort of chocolate-box from which singers select the best chocolates for a concert performance or CD. (I’m not saying you do this- you clearly love the form exactly as it is).

    1. Some interesting thoughts here. Wheelchair gimmicks get us nowhere. Left to myself I would just do the best I could to abide by the spirit of the thing.

    2. Thank you for your lovely message Gert, and for introducing me to Graeme Murphy I looked him up and I will check out more of his work, my dancer friend PJ Hurst danced in a similar ‘Swan Lake’ all-male production with Matthew Bourne, one of my choreography idols.

      I don’t have any family or friends from the opera world or opera audience so I’m introducing them to opera in bite size chunks. My parents didn’t like Act III in La Rondine so much so I know what you mean. I didn’t like Rent which is the musical version of this story as much as La Boheme so there must be a meeting point for a new audience whilst preserving traditional operas for established and traditional fans. I love the new Jonathan Dove opera I’m working on and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together over the next three months.

      I need to work on my recital and concert choices to make sure there is flow and well known pieces as well as new material that I like to do.

      Best wishes

      1. If the Hollywood screenwriters got hold of it, or any opera for that matter, I am sure they would come up with a happy ending. Mandatory, isn’t it? Or the French screenwriters would have an ending where we have no idea what happens to Mimi. They would probably cut her off mid song and the screen would fade to black 🙂 Then a sixty second pause before the credits roll, while we all ask ourselves if the film is actually finished! Anyway, congratulations on your performance, you certainly work hard at honing your craft.

  6. To turn from some of the things that are happening in the world to your ever onwards progression is such a relief, Charlotte. And that’s without such impressive photographs…

    1. Thank you Martin, I hardly dare look at my twitter news feed some days I just try to concentrate on staying happy, healthy and singing. My friend from Manchester Sam Pyatt took the photographs again at the end of the summer; I think I’m a bit of a departure from his normal models, mood shots, and commercial work so I like to think I give him a challenge 🙂

      Best wishes

    1. Thank you John, I can’t wait to see this opera live. I love the cinema screenings we have here in Glasgow live from ROH the Met etc. but I prefer live productions.

      Best wishes

  7. Ookay…I am just brutalizing these words. Pronouncing them all wrong, I figure. But I made it through. Wait. A sugar daddy? Can a sugar daddy be in an opera? And then there’s Schaunard playing the violin for the English Lord’s…parrot? Is that normal?

    I regretfully feel the need to point out that Rodolfo can’t fall in love with Mimi (Lucia) so fast. It’s a rule. Didn’t they watch “Frozen”? It’s only Act I, slow down people. 🙂

    Aww Marcello..you were so strong, brave. I suppose he lasted as long as he could. Chin up.

    Okay, Charlotte, What happened to Act V? It says that Mimi really isn’t dead, they find a cure, she and Rodolfo get married and live happily ever after like in Sleeping Beauty. The story can’t end badly, this isn’t a Clint Eastwood film! Hmm, don’t worry. I have a scrap of paper and will pencil it in myself. See…I fixed it.

    To your performance on video I say, that was awesome. Good night. And really, someone should fix this story, it’s an opera, not a “soap opera.”

    1. Haha they’re such big stories it’s hard to condense them, so many Sugar Daddies in opera 🙂 . I don’t know any English Lords lol I bet we have a couple with parrots though. I’m a traditional Disney fan Eric, love at first sight etc. My Dad said he fell in love with Mum on their first date and proposed shortly afterwards, she made him wait a year before she accepted his engagement offer. I did notice that message in Frozen and thought Noooo!!!! I like happy endings too I’ll try to find you an opera with a glorious happy ending.

      Best wishes

      1. I’m not sure how to explain my perception of opera songs and their content before I started following the stories you share…but they did not include sugar daddies…or parrots.

        🙂 Wow, a whole year? That’s tough, though I assume they continued to date in the meantime so he could keep other suitors away with a baseball bat and small explosives. Or perhaps that’s just my style. Hmm..moving on…

        Charlotte, it’s too many creepers running around to fall in love at first sight. What about Medical and Dental Records? Social Security number? Do they pay their taxes? Do they like cats? Some guys don’t like cats, you know. This is important; you have to be careful. Don’t forget about the Lie Detector test. And this is all during Act I…oh my goodness…

    1. Thank you Marcus, the stories have endured for one hundred years and more I’m learning as I go along sharing what I discover I’m glad you find them interesting.

      Best wishes

  8. Well done, Charlotte. You approach everything you do with a seriousness of purpose. There is a saying about playing with a straight bat. That is the only way to go for someone who appears in public, not only as a singer but also as a blogger.

    1. I’ve been told I can be a bit too business like but growing up around two no-nonsense business people rubs off, they tell me my creativity rubs off on them. When I get slightly dramatic they ground me 🙂 I’m glad you appreciate my style it’s good to know.

      Best wishes

  9. If you had the opportunity, would like to play Mimi or Musetta? Strong story and I do like the new ending pencilled in byEric! 😀

  10. I’ve seen this opera so many times and it continues to delight. Anna Netrebko used to sing Musetta, before she became a classic Mimi. Maybe we will get to see you in both parts one day.

    1. I would love to have the opportunity to play either part one day. Anna Netrebko is magnificent I’ve never seen her live but I’ve seen her on DVD and in the cinema screenings.
      Best wishes

  11. Lovely performance, Charlotte—although I’m not sure you are frivolous enough for Musetta! Seriously, it would be great to see you in that role.

    1. Thanks so much Beth, I’ve been learning lots more about this role since my church performance, I hope to incorporate it into my next live performance.
      Best wishes

  12. WOW… amazing voice. Your voice embodies so much feeling, energy, poise and control. You have this incredible ability to push right up through the octaves with a skill that always moves me to listen many, many times. Incredible performance! Thank you for posting.

    1. Thanks so much for your generous comment Philip, did you notice I got my first lead role with Scottish Opera Connect in April in the role of Eve, I’m very excited been working hard in rehearsal this weekend.
      Best wishes

    1. Thanks so much for your support Dianne, I’m excited to perform this April with Scottish Opera Connect and I’m really concentrating on my January exams and that role at the moment.
      Best wishes

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