Painting the Red Sea is freezing me.
It’s drenching me!
I’ll drown the Pharaoh.
What are you doing?
I’m watching the smoke of a thousand Parisian chimneys...
. . . and thinking of this lazy stove living in leisure like a lord!
It hasn’t been fed for a while.
What good are forests buried in snow?
Rodolfo, I’m going to share a profound thought with you.
I have to say, Marcello, I don’t believe in work!
My fingers have been frozen in Musetta’s icebox of a heart.
Love is a stove that burns too quickly . . .
. . . in which a man is the kindling.
And woman is the poker.
One burns up in a flash.
The other stands there watching.
Meanwhile, we’re freezing.
Dying of hunger. We need a fire.
Let’s sacrifice the chair!
Let art burst into flame.
We’ll burn the Red Sea!
No, painted canvas reeks. My passionate drama will warm us.
You’re not going to read it, I hope!
No! Its ashes will fly back up to heaven.
A great loss menaces posterity. Rome is in danger!
Here’s the first act. Tear it up.
What a happy glow!
The Apocalypse is here . . .
. . . it’s Christmas Eve, and the pawnshops are closed!
Hush! They’re performing my play!
It’s brilliant. Lively.
But so brief.
Brevity is a virtue.
Author, give me your chair.
These intermissions are so boring.
Act Two. Not a whisper!
Down with the author!
Wood! Cigars! Wine! It’s festival time!
I broke the Bank of France.
Pick them up. They can’t be real!
Are you blind? Look who it is!
King Louis-Phillippe is at our feet!
No one’s home! We’re not home!
I must have just one word.
Only one word: rent.
Take a seat! Have a drink!
Your three months are up.
Glad to hear it! Bottoms up!
To your health.
Now, the rent. You promised that . . .
I keep my promises.
(Are you crazy?)
You’ve seen the cash, now stay for a while.
How old are you, dear Mr. Benoît? About our age, right?
Older, much older!
The other night at Mabil’s, you were caught in the act. They caught you. Don’t deny it.
You have a point!
She is a real beauty.
Seducer! Rascal! He’s an oak! A cannon! He has good taste.
He was swaggering about with his chest puffed out.
I’m old, but I’m still at it!
When he struts like a peacock . . .
. . . female virtue surrenders to him.
I was a shy boy, but I’m catching up. It’s my hobby.
You take some little lady . . . cheerful . . . and a face . . .
. . . not like a whale, not spherical, or like a full moon . . .
. . . but not skinny, either. Definitely not!
Skinny women are malicious . . . and capricious . . .
. . . moaning and whining . . .
. . . just like my wife!
This man has a wife, but lust is in his heart! He defiles our upright abode.
Fumigate the room. Drive out the sinner.
Your moral turpitude banishes you! Good night to you and to your wife!
So that’s the rent paid!
I’m not in the right mood . . .
Please, my candle is out.
Come in for a moment.
Are you ill?
You’re very pale.
My breath . . .those stairs.
(Now what do I do?)
(This girl looks very ill.)
Do you feel better? Come sit near the fire.
A little wine?
Just a little.
(What a beauty!)
My candle, please. I’m fine now.
I’m so stupid. Where did I drop my key?
Don’t stand in the doorway. The draft will blow the candle out.
Light it again.
Mine has gone out, too.
And the key, where can it be?
It’s pitch black.
I’m such a troublesome neighbor.
Not at all!
Look for it.
Where can it be? You’ve found it?
But I thought . . .
Are you looking?
Your hand is so cold. Let me warm it.
What’s the point of searching in the dark?
Luckily, it’s a moonlit night . . .
. . . and the moon seems so near to us.
Wait . . . let me tell you who I am . . .
. . . what I do, and how I live.
Who am I?
Who am I? I’m a poet.
What do I do? I write!
How do I live? I live!
I’m poor but happy, squandering time like a lord . . .
. . . with my dreams and visions, my castles in the air . . .
. . . I have the soul of a millionaire!
Sometimes my treasure is ransacked by two beautiful eyes.
Those eyes came in with you just now. And the dreams once held dear . . .
. . . my usual dreams have vanished. Yet I don’t regret the loss.
They are replaced by a sweet hope!
Now that you know me, tell me about yourself, please.
Won’t you tell me who you are?
Yes, they call me Mimì, but my name is Lucia.
My story is short . . . I make flowers out of cloth or silk.
I’m calm and happy. I enjoy making my lilies and roses.
I love those sweet, enchanting things that speak of love . . .
. . . that speak of springtime . . .
. . . that speak of dreams and of visions . . .
. . . those things that call themselves poetry.
Do you understand?
They call me Mimì, but why, I don’t know.
I make my own supper. I don’t always go to Mass . . .
. . . but my prayers come from my heart.
I live alone, in a little white room. I look out at rooftops and sky.
But when the thaw comes, the first ray of sun is mine.
The first kiss of April is mine!
The first ray of sun is mine.
A rose blooms in a vase. Petal by petal, I watch it.
The scent of a flower is so delicate.
But, alas, the flowers I make . . .
. . . have no fragrance.
I don’t know what else I can tell you. I’m just your troublesome neighbor.
Rodolfo and Mimì’s Love Duet
Sweet girl! Your lovely face is silhouetted in the moonlight.
In you I see the dream I want to dream forever.
And my soul trembles.
Love alone rules my heart.
In my soul, your sweetness trembles.
(How sweetly his words touch my heart.)
Only love rules my heart.
Love begins with a kiss.
This is Mimì, the flower-maker. She completes the happy company . . .
. . . because I am a poet . . .
. . . and she is poetry!
From my thoughts poems blossom; from her hands, flowers.
From our exultant souls flows love!
Lower your thoughts and raise your glasses. A toast!
Give me some poison! It’s Musetta!
What an outfit!
I’m like a porter, trailing after you.
Come on, Lulu!
I can’t take this.
Please, save the nicknames for later.
Don't be such a Bluebeard!
He’s a little parcel of vice. With his chaste little darling!
Who is she?
I can answer that. Her name is Musetta.
(Marcello won’t even look at me.)
(Schaunard is laughing!)
She changes lovers with the wind.
(I could scratch their eyes out!)
She’s a screech owl.
(But I’m stuck with this old pelican.)
She dines on hearts.
I’m through with her. Pass the ragoût.
Waiter, this plate smells like grease!
No Musetta, please, be quiet!
(He won’t turn around. I’ll smack him!)
Who are you talking to?
To the waiter. Leave me alone.
I shall do as I please.
Please lower your voice!
(Can he really be jealous of this corpse? Let’s see if I still have it!)
This comedy is stupendous.
So, you won’t even look at me!
If you behaved like that, I would never forgive you.
I love you. Why do you speak of forgiving me?
Marcello pretends to ignore her, but he’s really lapping it up.
Your heart is pounding.
When I walk down the street, people stop and stare.
They ogle my beauty from head to toe.
Tie me to the chair!
What will people say?
I relish the desire that oozes from their eyes . . .
. . . desire that sees through my outer charms to my hidden treasures.
Desire swirls around me, and makes me ecstatic!
And you, who knew . . .
. . . who remember and suffer . . .
(I understand this poor girl.)
. . . you won’t speak of your anguish.
(She’s infatuated with Marcello.)
But I know you’re dying inside!
Ah! What pain! What torture!
Ah, my youth, you are not dead . . .
Take off my shoe. I beg you!
Run to the shoemaker . . . run!
. . . nor is my memory of you.
If you were to knock on my door . . .
. . . my heart would race to let you in!
Three Months Later
Marcello, at last, we can talk in private.
I want to leave Mimì.
How can you be so fickle?
I thought my heart was dead. Then her eyes brought it back to life.
But now I’m done with her.
So you’ve come to read me the last rites?
Only a madman loves in tears and sadness. Without laughter love is too cruel.
You are jealous.
Angry, lunatic, selfish, stubborn!
(Don’t make him angry.)
Mimì flirts with everyone. A rich Viscount is giving her the eye.
She flashes her ankles at him, and blatantly comes on to him.
I don’t think you’re telling the truth.
You’re right, I’m not.
I cannot hide my torment from her.
I love Mimì more than anything in the world.
I love her, but I’m terrified.
Mimì is so ill! Every day she’s weaker. The poor girl is doomed.
(What is he saying?)
She’s wracked by a terrible cough. Her pale face is feverish.}
(Am I going to die?)
My room is a squalid garret without any heat.
A bitter wind blows through it, straight from the mountains.
She sings and smiles, while I blame myself for her illness.
Mimì is a flower, but poverty has blighted her.
I can’t restore her life with love alone.
Mimì, were you listening? I get frightened about nothing.
Come into the warmth.
No, the smoke suffocates me.
Who’s Musetta laughing with? The flirt! I’ll teach her.
Rodolfo and Mimì Break Up
Mimì will return to the lonely nest she left when she heard your call of love.
I’ll return to embroidering fake flowers.
Farewell without bitterness!
Please gather up the few things I left.
In my drawer you’ll find a little gold ring and my prayer book.
I’ll send the concierge for them.
The pink bonnet you bought me . . .
. . . if you wish . . .
. . . if you wish, keep it in remembrance of our love.
So it’s really over. You’re leaving me, sweet girl.
Goodbye, dreams of love.
Goodbye, sweet awakenings.
Goodbye, the life of dreams.
Goodbye, rebukes and jealousy.
Goodbye, calm smiles.
Goodbye, suspicion and bitterness.
Which I, the true poet, rhymed with sweet caress!
In winter it's like death to be alone.
But in springtime the sun becomes your friend.
Marcello and Musetta Enter Fighting; Quartet
What were you saying to that man?
No one is alone in April.
You looked guilty when I came in.
He was only asking, “Do you like dancing, Miss?”
One can talk to the lilies and roses . . .
I told him I could dance all night.
. . . and listen to the twittering of fledgling birds.
I need my freedom!
I’ll give you such a thrashing!
With the flowering of spring, fountains murmur.
I detest lovers who behave like . . .
. . . husbands!
The evening breeze soothes our pain.
I’ll make love with whom I please!
Good! I’m a happy man!
We’ll wait for the coming of spring.
House painter! Toad!
Yours forever, for the rest of my life.
We’ll bid farewell when the flowers bloom.
I wish winter would last forever.
We will part when the flowers bloom again.
Back in Rodolfo's Apartment
Gavotte. Minuet. Pavanella. Fandango!
I propose a quadrille.
Take your lady’s hand. Charming damsel.
Respect my modesty. Please!
First the round dance.
No! You animal!
Ha! The manners of a lackey!
Dost thou insult me?
Make naked thy weapon! En garde!
I’ll drink your blood. I’ll disembowel you!
Prepare a stretcher! Prepare a cemetery!
While the combat rages, the lively dance goes on!
Musetta Enters with Mimì
Mimì is here. She’s too weak to climb the stairs.
Move the bed near the window.
There. Something to drink . . .
Rest. Don’t speak.
Rodolfo, do you want me here with you?
Ah, my Mimì, always!
I heard that Mimì had fled from the Viscount, and was dying.
I found her in the street, dragging herself along.
She said, “I want to die with him. Perhaps he’s waiting for me.”
I feel much better.
Let me look around.
How good it is to be here. I feel myself reborn.
I feel such life here.
Do you have anything here? Coffee? Wine?
Nothing at all. Just poverty.
(She can’t last more than half an hour.)
I’m so cold. If only I had a muff to warm my hands.
Warm your hands in mine. Hush! Talking tires you out.
I have a little cough. I’m used to it by now.
Hello Marcello, Schaunard, Colline.
You’re all here, smiling at Mimì.
I’m speaking softly. Don’t worry.
Marcello, believe me, Musetta is very good.
Sell these and buy some medicine. Send for the doctor.
You must rest.
Don’t leave me.
It may be her last wish, poor thing.
I’m going to buy her a muff. We’ll go together.
You are good, my Musetta.
Colline Parts with His Coat
Dear old coat, listen to me . . .
. . . I must stay here in the valley of sorrow, but you must ascend the holy mountain.
Never have you bowed your back to the rich and powerful.
Philosophers and poets have calmly passed through the grotto of your pockets.
Now those happy days have fled. Farewell, faithful friend. Farewell!
What is it?
Nothing. I’m fine.
Stay quiet, for pity’s sake!
Yes. Forgive me. I’ll be good.
Is she asleep?
The doctor’s coming.
Here’s the medicine.
It’s me, Musetta.
It’s so beautiful and soft.
My hands won’t be frozen anymore.
I’ll have pretty hands again. Did you give this to me?
You spendthrift. It must have cost you!
Why are you crying? Everything’s all right.
Here, my love . . . with you always.
My hands . . . so warm . . . sleep . . .
What did the doctor say?
He’s on his way.
Madonna, be merciful. This poor girl must not die.
The candle is flickering.
Madonna, I am unworthy of forgiveness, but Mimì is an angel from heaven.
I still hope. She’s not really in danger, is she?
(Marcello, she’s dead.)"
How is she?
What’s wrong? Why are you staring at me like that?
from supertitles by John Caird