From the mid-19th century onwards - against the background of industrialization, the supremacy of bourgeois values, and an intellectual climate dominated by secular materialistic and scientific positivism - art became realistic, seeking to show things as they really were - almost photographically -, rather than making them more amiable or more beautiful. An opera such as La Bohème, which talks of the fragile nature of happiness in a world of poverty, cold and disease, is an obvious example of this trend. In La Bohème, however, the aesthetic of Verism - the Italian equivalent of the French Naturalism of Émile Zola - becomes more sentimental an everyday lives amid dreams and disappointments, waiting for the event that is to win them renown, but poverty and misfortune deprive the leading characters - Mimì and Rodolfo - of the joy of mutual love. The text and music relate all this with a pleasant melodramatic tenderness with which it is easy to identify.

Director: Peter Stein
Cast: Zeljko Lucic and Tatiana Serjan

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