La Boheme at the Movies

April 06 2014

We saw Puccini’s La Boheme in a matinee performance at the movies yesterday. It was the first time that I’ve ever seen this opera in its entirety.

La Boheme is crazy popular, one of the most often-performed operas in the world (it’s currently #3 behind La Traviata and Carmen, per Operabase). The plot was remarkably shallow (or absent?) for such a great opera. There’s not much plot or character development, and it was hard for me to empathize with any of the four major characters (Rodolfo, Mimi, Marcello, Musetta) because we don’t really get to know them. Essentially, the lessons learned might be that artists were starving in the 1800’s too?

These two fell in and out of love as often as we brush our teeth


We had a unique sub for this performance. Kristine Opolais stepped in last-minute in the role of Mimi. Amazingly, she had just performed the lead role in Madama Butterfly the previous night! The hostess for the Movie production remarked that Kristine has died twice on-stage within about 18 hours.

This was my third time attending the Met at the movies. I think it’s amazing what they’ve accomplished with this, streaming everything live in HD. It’s really a better experience than attending the opera in person. We get close-ups, we get plot context (via the hostess, who is usually a famous opera star herself), we don’t have to dress up, we can bring food, and it’s all cheaper!

I find it fascinating that the other major opera houses have not responded. For instance, why can’t La Scala broadcast their performances? All the other opera houses are basically allowing the Met to own this market. This would keep me up at night if I were leading any of the other opera houses.

To take this one step further, the major sports teams and sports networks have found that there is tremendous value in live events. Sporting teams and leagues will continue to appreciate in value because their live events are still must-see TV (and must-see live).

I wonder if a major orchestra or ballet house could emulate the Met’s strategy as well? I could see a live holiday performance of the Nutcracker by the Bolshoi doing really well among American audiences.


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