Archives For Canzoni D’Amore

The Laird O’Cockpen

March 22, 2015 — 61 Comments
Laird-O-Cockpen-Header-Blog

Getting Ready

This weekend we have been rehearsing with Scottish Opera Connect for the coming production of “The Walk From The Garden”. It has been fantastic to practice alongside the string quartet today and the excitement of feeling it all to come together makes it all so worthwhile.

Dove-Rehearsals-With-The-String-Quartet

My Score From Today’s Sitzprobe Rehearsal

Over the last few weeks I have been totally absorbed with several projects; learning the music and lyrics for our Chamber Choir performance on April 17th playing catch up because I’d missed a couple of rehearsals due to Dido, seeing all the aspects of “The Walk From The Garden” take shape and learning the music and dance routines as member of the chorus of “Sir John In Love” I have enjoyed being put through my paces.

For tonight’s post I wanted to leave you with the last of the songs from my album, “The Laird O’Cockpen”. This humorous Scottish folk song was written by Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne ( 1766 – 1845 ). She wrote several beautiful songs which have become thought of as traditional Scottish songs. As the daughter of a staunchly Jacobite family she often wrote in sympathy of the cause, setting her songs to old established tunes.

The-Laird-O-Cockpen-Watson-Gordon-

The Laird O’Cockpen – A Painting By Watson Gordon

Following her marriage to Major William Murray Naine she moved to Edinburgh becoming Lady Nairne. Whilst in Edinburgh she carried on writing her songs under a pseudonym as it was considered a “queer trade” for a titled Lady. The songs were kept secret from her husband and her work “Lays From Strathearn” was eventually published in her own name in 1946 after her death.

Carolina-Oliphant

Carolina Oliphant ( 1766 – 1845 )

The Laird o’ Cockpen

The laird o’ Cockpen, he’s proud an’ he’s great,
His mind is ta’en up wi’ the things o’ the State;
He wanted a wife, a braw house to keep,
But favour wi’ wooin’ was fashious to seek.

By the dyke-side a lady did dwell,
At feast he give he thocht she’d look well,
M’Leish’s ae dochter o’ Clavers-ha’ Lea,
A penniless lass wi’ a lang pedigree.

His wig was weel pouther’d and as gude as new,
His waistcoat was white, his coat it was blue;
He put on a ring, a sword, and cock’d hat,
And wha could refuse the laird wi’ a’ that?

He took his grey mare, and rade cannily,
And rapp’d at the yett o’ Clavers-ha’ Lea;
‘Gae tell Mistress Jean to come speedily ben, –
She’s want to speak with the laird o’ Cockpen.’

Mistress Jean she was makin’ the elderflower wine;
‘An’ what brings the laird at sic a like time?’
She aff her apron, and on her silk goun,
Her mutch wi’ red ribbons, and gaed awa’ doun.

An’ when she cam’ ben, he bowed fu’ low,
An’ what was his errand he soon let her know;
Amazed was the laird when the lady said ‘Na’,
And wi’ a curtsie she turned and awa’.

Dumfounder’d was he, nae sigh did he gie,
He mounted his mare – he rade cannily;
An’ aften he thought, as he gaed through the glen,
She’s daft to refuse the laird o’ Cockpen.
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Over the last couple of months I have been asked a couple of times if I have any CDs for sale rather than having to download the tracks from Amazon or iTunes. I do have about 30 that I have signed so my Dad has added a page to my blog where you can order one from (link).  

FrontCover

Now Available As A CD To Buy From My Store

HeaderGretchenBlog

Franz Schubert, born in January 1797, was an Austrian composer who died at the young age of 31 years. His work bridged classical and romantic. He had an early gift for music playing the piano, violin and organ and was also an excellent singer although when his voice broke in 1812 it forced him to leave college, Stadtkonvikt (Imperial Seminary) after earning a choir scholarship there in 1808. His father was a school teacher, and he taught the young Schubert rudimentary violin whilst his elder brother taught him piano. His mother was a home maker and played the cello. He was their 12th child, he had 14 siblings, nine died in infancy.

Franz-Schubert

Franz Schubert

Between 1813 and 1815 Schubert was a prolific songwriter, at the age of 17 he wrote two of his first German Lieds ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’ and ‘Der Erlkönig’. He worked with texts from poetry giants like Wolfgang von Goethe, interpreting their poetry using his musical creativeness. These pieces are very dramatic, the depiction of the spinning wheel and treadle in the piano in ‘Gretchen’ are a tricky pictorial keyboard figuration.

Therese_Grob

Therese Grob

He had to teach to make ends meet but he hated it. In 1814 he met a soprano called Therese Grob and wrote several works for her, he wanted to marry her but was thwarted by harsh marriage laws where he had to show he had the means to support a family. He lived in the early 1820’s with a close-knit group of artists and students, he and four of his friends were arrested by the Austrian police who were on their guard against revolutionary activities. One of his friends was banished from Austria and Schubert was ‘severely reprimanded’. Schubert was not quite five feet tall and his friends nicknamed him “Schwämmerl” ‘Little Mushroom’.

Franz-Liszt

Franz Liszt

When he died in November 1828, he’d been ill with headaches, fever, swollen joints and vomiting, impoverished and neglected except by a circle of his friends who were in awe of his genius. The composer Franz Liszt said of him after his death that ‘he was the most poetic musician who ever lived’. His output in his short life was prolific consisting of over six hundred secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven completed symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music.

Today Schubert is placed amongst the greatest composers of the early Romantic era and as such is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early nineteenth century.

This was the video of performance of this fabulous composition at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 2014 courtesy of Llangollen.

gretchen-spinning-wheel

An Early Depiction Of Gretchen am Spinnrade

English Translation

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.

Where I do not have him,
That is the grave,
The whole world
Is bitter to me.

My poor head
Is crazy to me,
My poor mind
Is torn apart.

For him only, I look
Out the window
Only for him do I go
Out of the house.

His tall walk,
His noble figure,
His mouth’s smile,
His eyes’ power,

And his mouth’s
Magic flow,
His handclasp,
and ah! his kiss!

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.

My bosom urges itself
toward him.
Ah, might I grasp
And hold him!

And kiss him,
As I would wish,
At his kisses
I should die!

O-Waly-Waly-Header-Blog

This is a folk song of Scottish origin of which there are innumerable versions. The modern lyrics ‘the Water is Wide’ was named by Cecil Sharp in 1906 from multiple other sources in Southern England, following English lyrics with a different story.

Britten

Benjamin Britten

Benjamin Britten used the melody and verses of The Water is Wide for his version in 1948 which doesn’t have the O Waly Waly verse yet is still called O Waly Waly.

Kathleen-Ferrier

Kathleen Ferrier

The modern version of the song was sung by Pete Seeger in the folk revival. It has also been recorded by Sarah Brightman, Janet Baker, Sir Thomas Allen whose masterclass at the RCS I attended last week, and Kathleen Ferrier to name just a few.

Sir-Thomas-Allen

Meeting Sir Thomas Allen Following A Masterclass At The RCS

Here is a performance that I recorded back in August 2013 whilst performing at a recital in Lytham St Annes accompanied by Russell Lomas.

I have really enjoyed publishing these posts on the songs from my album and if you want to check them out again you can find them by selecting Discography on the menu bar. I do hope that you have enjoyed reading about them.

Freundliche-Vision-Blog

I have written previously about Richard Strauss on my blog as I find many of his songs to be full of romance and the beauty to be found within loving relationships. With Valentine’s Day approaching this Saturday I thought I would take the opportunity to share another of Strauss’s songs with you.

“Freundliche Vision” (a welcome vision or a friendly vision)

This was recorded last year on Valentine’s Day, February 14th 2014 in Bury Parish church accompanied by Russell Lomas.

The inspiration for this song came from a poem written by Otto Julius Bierbaum (1865 – 1910). The poem was one of five works by Bierbaum that Richard Strauss set to music in 1918 for his song cycle Opus 48.

The poems/songs were:

Freundliche Vision
Ich Schwebe
Kling!
Winterweihe
Winterliebe

Richard_Strauss

Richard Strauss

 

The songs were testaments to love; the emotions, feelings, sensations and excitement that you experience when you share your life with someone special to you.

These were the words from the original poem:

Nicht im Schlafe hab’ ich das geträumt,
Hell am Tage sah ich’s schön vor mir:
Eine Wiese voller Margeritten;
Tief ein weißes Haus in grünen Büschen;
Götterbilder leuchten aus dem Laube.
Und ich geh’ mit Einer, die mich lieb hat,
Ruhigen Gemütes in die Kühle
Dieses weißen Hauses, in den Frieden,
Der voll Schönheit wartet, daß wir kommen.

Otto Bierbaum

I found this beautiful translation of the poem into English by Constance Bache (1846 – 1903) which I hope will give you an idea of the emotion to be found in the original text.

cottage

Not in slumber did the dream arise,
But in day’s broad light I saw it all:
Just a meadow full of budding daisies,
And a sunny house half hid in foliage;
Forms divine are lurking in the thicket.
And I walk with her whose love I cherish;
Tranquillity we enjoy the coolness
Of this sheltered cottage, full of beauty,
Full of peace that waiteth on our coming.
And I go with her whom I cherish
To the peace and the beauty

Constance Bache

Constance Bache was herself a pianist and composer who studied at the Munich Conservatoire in Germany but following an injury to her right hand she returned to England and along with her teaching she translated many German and Russian songs into English.

Constance-Bache

Other Examples Of Songs Translated Into English By Constance Bache

 

These beautiful songs and their sentiments are a great way to lift your spirits especially as Valentine’s Day approaches. These poems paint emotive images of love between kindred spirits.

 

Scots Song – Track 12

February 4, 2015 — 54 Comments

Scots-Song-Header-Blog

One of the best things about studying classical music here at the RCS is the opportunity to explore diverse repertoire. Immersing yourself in great works from different composers, countries and cultures makes for exciting times.

I added two beautiful Scottish Songs to my repertoire for a competition, the Hugh S Robertson Scots Song competition held at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in November 2013., “Scots Song” and “The Laird O’ Cockpen”. These songs are tracks 12 and 13 on my album Canzoni D’Amore (Songs of Love).

James-MacMillan

James MacMillan

‘Scots Song’ was composed by James MacMillan (b.1959) CBE, in 1991 and is one of the songs from ‘Three Scottish Songs’ an atmospheric setting of poems in Scots and in English by William Soutar (1898-1943)..

William-Soutar

William Soutar

‘Scots Song’ 1991; ‘Ballad’ 1994; and ‘The Children’ 1995.

James MacMillian is a Scottish born Classical and modern composer and conductor who became Associate composer with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

“The Tryst” poem by William Soutar became the Scots Song. The hauntingly beautiful lyrics could be explained as two lovers meeting secretly at night and sharing precious hours together before having to part in the morning.

O luely, luely cam she in
And luely she lay doun;
I kent her be her caller lips
And her briests sae sma’ and roun’

A’ thru the nicht we spak nae word
Nor sinder’d bane frae bane:
A’thru the nicht I heard her hert
Gang soundin’ wi’my ain.

It was about the waukrife hour
Whan cocks begin to craw;
The she smool’d saftly thru the mirk
Afore the day wud daw.

Sae luely, luely cam she in
Sae luely was she gaen;
And wi’her a’ my simmer days
Like they had never been

I sang it at The Kathleen Ferrier Bursary competition, but here’s a recording I made at Bury Parish Church on February 14th 2014, a great tune for Valentine’s day.

I recently went with friends to watch James MacMillan’s opera “Ines de Castro” at the refurbished Theatre Royal in Glasgow. It was a great evening and I must put some time aside to write about it for you. Here are a couple of pictures from the evening.

Scottish-Opera-With-Olga
Scottish-Opera-With-Foyer

Robert_Schumann_1839

Robert Schumann (1810-1856) had been regarded as brilliant pianist predicted by his teacher to become one of the finest in Europe. Unfortunately he suffered an injury to his hand which brought his dreams of pursuing a virtuoso career at the piano to an untimely end. He decided to concentrate on his composing and produced a long list of accomplished musical works for us all to enjoy.

Schumann

One such composition is “Widmung” a captivating lied which he composed in 1840 as part of a song cycle “Myrthen” (Opus 25). Schumann wanted to create the perfect gift for his wife-to-be Clara Wieck to present to her on their wedding day.

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The title of the cycle represents the bridal wreaths which were often made out of myrtle, an evergreen shrub entwined with white flowers.

Schuman used a collection of 26 poems to complete his work from poets such as Robert Burns, Lord Byron and Friedrich Ruckert. The songs embodied all the emotions that Schumann associated with love, marriage and companionship.

robert-clara-2

“Widmung” (Dedication ) was the first song in the cycle using the lyrics from a poem by Friedrich Ruckert. The lyrics of the song provided the means for Schumann to capture the way that Clara made him feel. He expresses that Clara is his peace, angel, repose, rapture, heart, soul, grave for sorrows, better self and his heaven. A truly beautiful lied and I hope that I do it justice.

Lyrics
Du meine [Seele]1, du mein Herz,
Du meine [Wonn’, o du]2 mein Schmerz,
Du meine Welt, in der ich lebe,
Mein Himmel du, [darin]3 ich schwebe,
O du mein Grab, in das hinab
Ich ewig meinen Kummer gab!
Du bist die Ruh, du bist der Frieden,
Du bist [der]4 Himmel, mir beschieden.
Daß du mich liebst, macht mich mir wert,
Dein Blick hat mich vor mir verklärt,
Du hebst mich liebend über mich,
Mein guter Geist, mein beßres Ich!

Translation
You my soul, you my heart,
You my bliss, o you my pain,
You the world in which I live;
You my heaven, in which I float,
You my grave, into which
I eternally cast my grief.
You are rest, you are peace,
You are bestowed upon me from heaven.
That you love me makes me worthy of you;
Your gaze transfigures me;
You raise me lovingly above myself,
My good spirit, my better self!

You can see why this era was called the romantic era of music. Schumann manages to embody the excitement of being in love through the shape of the melody, it is so full of energy and makes me feel so happy when I sing it.

Thank You
I would also like to say a BIG thank you to all of you for being part of my life. I have met so many lovely people here on my blog and learnt so much from you all. Having this opportunity to meet such a wide and varied group of people from diverse backgrounds with enriching experiences has been a real highlight for me. I am humbled that I have been nominated for several blogging awards and appreciate each and every one. The problem I have is that it would be impossible for me to pick my favourite ten or fifteen bloggers, I tend to read and comment on the blogs that I follow whenever I have the time but I cannot get around as often as I would like. If it were up to me I would give every single one of you “Blog Of The Year”. Please, please, please keep writing and sharing your experiences, creativity and enthusiasm as it gives so much pleasure to the people that read what you write

I have been researching “Der Ring des Nibelungen” the cycle of four operas by German composer Richard Wagner and have been enthralled by them.

Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner

I have always enjoyed studying German song especially Lieder, German art songs from the 19th century romantic period.  I find the interplay between the pianist and the singer captivating as each depends on the other in a way that can be quite unique to this genre of music.

One of my favourite composers of Lied, the German word for song, is Richard Strauss and I find myself getting emotionally drawn in to his songs.  Richard Strauss was born in Munich, Germany on the 11th June 1864.  Having a father that was a principal horn player at the Munich Court Opera ensured a passionate music education which resulted in Strauss completing his first composition at the age of 6.

Richard Strauss Aged 22

Richard Strauss Aged 22

In 1874 at the age of 10 he was introduced to the operas of Wagner and though the works were frowned upon at the time by his father they would go on to have a profound influence on Strauss’s work.

Following a brief period at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich where he studied Philosophy and Art History he left to take up his first conducting position.  He was taken under the wing of the renowned German conductor Hans von Bulow at the Meiningen orchestra.  At the age of just 21 Strauss went on to become the principal conductor of the Meiningen orchestra when Hans von Bulow resigned in 1885.

Pauline de Anna Strauss

Pauline de Anna Strauss

Richard Strauss married Pauline de Anna in September 1894 who was acclaimed to be the inspiration of many of his works.  I think that it is these emotions in his pieces that help me to connect with them.  “Zueignung” meaning  ‘Dedication’ is a beautiful song composed by Strauss, it is taken from a poem by Hermann von Gilm zu Rosenegg which Strauss lovingly set to music.

Ja, du weißt es, teure Seele,
Daß ich fern von dir mich quäle,
Liebe macht die Herzen krank,
Habe Dank.

[Hielt ich nicht]1, der Freiheit Zecher,
Hoch den Amethysten-Becher,
Und du segnetest den Trank,
Habe Dank.

Und beschworst darin die Bösen,
Bis ich, was ich nie gewesen,
[Heilig an das Herz]2 dir sank,
Habe Dank.

The translation provided by Lawrence Snyder :

Yes, you know it, dearest soul,
How I suffer far from you,
Love makes the heart sick,
Have thanks.

Once I, drinker of freedom,
Held high the amethyst beaker,
And you blessed the drink,
Have thanks.

And you exorcised the evils in it,
Until I, as I had never been before,
Blessed, blessed sank upon your heart,
Have thanks.

This is a video of my performance of this beautiful song from the “Voice of The Future” competition at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in the summer of 2014. I also managed to record this to go on my album “Canzoni D’Amore”. The header photo of George Todica and me was taken by my Nana the day before the grand finale in Llangollen.

Richard Strauss  Time Magazine 1938

Richard Strauss Time Magazine 1938

Strauss was a prolific composer and wrote many works including solo instrument and orchestra, fabulous Lieder and several Operas until his death in September 1949. I cannot wait to explore more of his repertoire in the years to come including some of his most famous opera roles like that of Salome.

Richard_Strauss-Woche,_festival_poster,_1910_by_Ludwig_Hohlwein

Richard Strauss – Salome Poster – 1910

If you are familiar with any of his works I would love to read what you think and if you have any suggestions regarding songs of his that I could explore then I would appreciate to hear from you :).

I have previously written about one of my favourite songs: Rusalka’s “Mesicku na nebi hlubokem,” (Song to the Moon) from the Opera by Antonín Dvořák showing images of the stage sets and Renee Fleming’s beautiful version.  The song is sung by a plaintive girl longing for love calling on the moon to tell her Prince of her love.

Pascal Barnier sent me a lovely image below and I decided to do a little bit more research into the folklore behind the character.

Pascal-Rusalka-Song-To-The-Moon

In the opera Rusalka’s father is a water goblin called Vodnik and there is a witch called Jezibaba who transforms Rusalka into a human at the cost of her voice.  Rusalka’s lover the Prince, betrays her, dooming them both.  I’d love to see an Opera about the younger Rusalka before she fell for the Prince with the last Act a contracted version of the original opera to show just how much she gives up for her love.

Here is my performance of the aria from this year’s “Voice Of The Future” competition at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod if you haven’t had the chance to see it.

Rusalka is a water nymph a female spirit whose origins can be traced to the Slavic folklore (Eastern Europe). The name comes from the eastern Slavic русалка ( meaning red haired girl ) and has taken on the meaning mermaid in Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine. In western Slavic folklore there are stories based on spirits called víla in Czech or Slovak and wiła in Polish.

water_nymph_by_AvantFae

Folklore tells us that generally, the rusalka couldn’t completely stand out of water, half woman half fish, some stories say that she could climb trees or sit on a dock with her feet/flippers in the water combing her hair, sometimes the rusalka is depicted as wood nymph usually during the summer the rusalka would join in circle dances in groups.

Vila

Some dark tales tell of rusalki who like to play games, despising other women and only showing themselves to attack or take away their men.  Her purpose was to lure young men, seduced by her looks or voice, into the depths of the water to destroy him.

hylas_and_the_water_nymphs-Henrietta-Rae

These stories are found all over the world, in Brazilian mythology Iara or Yara are sirens or mermaids.  Depicted as beautiful females who lead men to their deaths singing to them whilst combing her hair.  Once under Iara’s spell the victim would leave anything to live with her underwater forever, she is immortal but he grows old.

The-Mermaids-Rock-by-Edward-Hale,-1894

These same myths are represented in stories of mermaids going back thousands of years.  Greek sirens were first mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey they were sea-nymphs who had the power to charm by song, unhappy mariners were irresistibly drawn to the depths of the sea to their doom.  Many medieval sailors claimed to have seen them.  The mermaids described by Columbus were said to be the marine creatures called manatees.In British folklore they can be bringers of bad luck causing bad storms and drowning men.  In some tales they marry and live with humans such as the Merrow from Scotland.

mermaids

 

Do you know of any other similar folk tales about these water nymphs?

 

Do-Not-Go-My-Love-Blog-BW

This beautiful and haunting song was composed by Richard Hageman who was born and raised in the Netherlands but who later took on American citizenship.  He was considered to be a child prodigy and was thought equal to a concert pianist at the age of 6.  In his early years whilst studying in Amsterdam he began to accompany many of the singers at the Amsterdam Royal Opera Company where he eventually was appointed to the position of conductor in 1899 at the age of 18.

Richard_Hageman

Richard Hageman

After moving to America he held positions at the Metropolitan Opera and Chicago Civic Opera and also became the conductor of the Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles symphony orchestras.

stagecoach

John Wayne From The 1939 Film “Stagecoach”

Along with his many Art song compositions he wrote several film scores including the one for  “Stagecoach” directed by John Ford,  the 1939 movie which Hageman shared an Academy Award for.

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore Was The First Non European To Win The Nobel Prize For Literature In 1913.

The song’s lyrics were taken from a poem by Rabindranath Tagore a Bengali poet and philosopher who Hageman used for the inspiration for this piece and two more of his songs “May Night” and “At The Well”

Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.
I have watched all night, and now my eyes are heavy with sleep;
I fear lest I lose you when I am sleeping.
Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.
I start up and stretch my hands to touch you.
I ask myself, “Is it a dream?”
Could I but entangle your feet with my heart,
And hold them fast to my breast!
Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.

Classically structured songs such as this one are considered Art songs and were usually composed for a single voice and accompanied by piano. They’re used extensively in recitals and for concert repertoire all over the world. These songs were not part of a staged work such as an opera but could sometimes be composed to be performed in a song cycle.

When I decided on the songs to record last summer for my album Canzoni D’Amore , accompanied by George Todica.  I wanted to use a mixture of both art songs and operatic arias so that I could share with you my love for a broad range of classical music.

Though my heart is set on the opera stage I will always search out and perform those art songs that inspire or touch me in some way.

I do hope that you enjoy it.

P.S. I could not make up my mind if I should have used the black and white picture or the colour one in my post so in the end I chose the black and white one as it seemed to be in keeping with the other images.  I used the colour one in the header so let me know what you think?,

Quando-Men-Vo-Blog

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

Boheme-poster1

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).

GiacomoPuccini

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.

La-Boheme

Street Scene From La Boheme

Act III
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.