Appropriation of 'La Boheme' and 'RENT'

Essay by ohjabaHigh School, 11th gradeA+, February 2005

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BOHEMIAN: A person with artistic or literary interests who disregards conventional standards of behaviour.

These said "bohemians" have featured as the central characters for two widely recognised and influential musical performances. Giacomo Puccini's 1896 classical opera La Boheme, and exactly 100 years later in Jonathon Lander's rock musical RENT. The times and settings of these two compositions could not be any more dissimilar, yet it is amazing how strongly some of the same themes and undercurrents are carried through them both; themes such as poverty, art, disease and those that transcend time and location about all, Love and Death.

La Boheme is set in the bohemian community in the Latin Quarter of Paris around 1830. The lead characters whom we are introduced to are a group of struggling young friends; Mimi, a needleworker and part-time courtesan, Rodolfo a Poet, Musetta a courtesan and good-time-girl, Marcello a painter, Schaunard a musician, Colline a philosopher and Alcindoro a wealthy state councillor.

The majority of these friends are afflicted with the fatal disease tuberculosis.

It is Christmas Eve and the men are all at Marcello and Rodolfo's place when they are hassled by the landlord Benoit who is after the rent. They get him drunk and eventually throw him out in mock indignation over his talk of women. All but Rodolfo decide to go down to Café Momus, but he stays as he has to finish an article he is writing. Suddenly there is a knock at the door; it is his neighbour Mimi who needs a light for her candle. There is instant mutual interest and Rodolfo seizes the opportunity of Mimi mislaying her key to introduce himself with a song. She then responds the same way. The two have fallen in love and she accepts his proposal to join...