These Left Bank Parisian Bohemians share a lot of parallels with today’s millennials. Skip the avocado toast to see the show at this historic Big Apple opera house.
The Metropolitan Opera House has performed La Bohème more than 1,200 times–more than any other opera–and for good reason. The opera is said to be based on Henri Murger’s vignettes written in the 1840s about young bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of Paris: their trials, triumphs and impending tragedies. Two Italian guys, Franco Zeffirelli’s and Puccini’s tragic spectacle is worth getting dressed up for. With lines such as “In you, I see the Dreams that I have always longed for!” (Act I: O Soave Fanciulla), it makes for a great date activity.
Moreover, it proves that young people haven’t really changed. La Bohème depicts the story of bon vivants, or lovers of life, who revel in hedonistic pleasures. They may not be able to pay rent, but they won’t blink an eye at drowning their dollars at the local bar. Sound familiar? How many friends do we know who have sacrificed their electricity bills for craft cocktails and bottomless brunch? Throughout the Opera, you see examples of our modern millennial rules to live by: You Only Live Once (YOLO), Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), and the hustle.
Money Score: Good
Speaking of money, for this experience, this is a good value for your dollar. The Metropolitan Opera has made a conscious effort to increase the number of young people visiting, so rush tickets and special student discounts make the shows more accessible for our age range. There are also free dress rehearsals available to the public throughout the year. (But if you miss out on these, skip brunch and invest your funds into a cultural experience you’ll talk about for years to come.) Drinks and concessions, however, are a premium at the theatre, so either indulge beforehand or walk across the street if you get thirsty.
And if you get online in time to snag the $25 rush tickets, you’re in for a treat. The seats are available in a prime location on a first-come, first-served basis. You no longer have to wait in the cold to snag the seats at a good price or hang on the line in the calling cue, waiting for someone on the other end to answer. But there are limited seats for each performance, so have your laptop ready to log in when noon strikes, Monday through Friday, and at 2 in the afternoon on Saturdays.
If you’re completing your studies, the Met Opera Students Program offers full-time undergraduate and grad students the opportunity to purchase tickets to select performances at special rates.
Opera lovers, ages 21 to 45, can also join the Young Associates Program, which includes VIP events and special show access. If you enjoy the show and think you want to rub shoulders with the young, artsy folk, it may be worth investing.
Society hasn’t changed, and neither have timeless classics. La Bohème may not be as gripping as other operas, but it shouldn’t be missed. Boasting beautiful music and ambiance, it merits a glamorous night at the theatre.
Consciousness Score: OK
It’s difficult for me to fully gauge consciousness from my experience, but from what I could tell, the performers were predominantly white, and there was maybe a whopping 5 percent diversity in the chorus. However, they cast two African Americans as main characters for at least half of the run of the show in October, and I salute them for trying to draw in younger patrons, reach a wider general public, and bring more independent, international works to the theatre.
‘All the Feels’ Score: Excellent
I personally love the opera. The music is beautiful, the acting emotionally engaging–from the start of the score to the finish–and contrary to most people my age, I actually prefer opera to musicals.
La Bohème not only boasts an attractive, talented cast, but it is also entertaining. While a tragedy, it’s refreshingly light (I didn’t cry this time, which I often do at these sort of things).
A long-time favorite of audiences around the globe, The New York Times writes “public and
critical uproar … immediate and lasting” for a reason. Franco Zeffirelli’s rendition boasts excessive theatrics: an explosion, a horse-and-pony show, and a magnetically energetic cast. It’s hard not to be ecstatic and completely bewitched by the lives of these Bohemian lovers. And the melodies of the adult and children’s choruses, set to skilled Met orchestra and supporting voices, whisk you away to another world onstage.
I don’t want to give too much away, but I will share that the kids’ singing was amazing, pure and endearing. The opening of Act 2 drew applause and appreciation from the crowd. The third act, in line with the tale, was desolate and stark. Snow was falling on stage, and the umbrellas looked wet (that’s the level of detail). You have to see it to believe it.