Marcel and Rudolph are now living together in their attic-studio. Musetta and Mimi have left them. They are seemingly working, but their thoughts wander towards the women they love. Schaunard and Colline enter with rolls and a herring for their meal. They have a wild time and are dancing and singing when Musetta enters and tells them that Mimi is outside so weak and ill that she can go no further. They make up a bed on the couch for her and bring her in. She clings to Rudolph and implores him not to leave her. Mimi reconciles Marcel and Musetta. Musetta tells her old friends that Mimi is dying and gives them her earrings to sell, asking them to get a doctor for Mimi. They all go out leaving Rudolph alone with Mimi. He holds her in his arms and recalls their love. Mimi is seized with a fit of coughing and falls back in a faint. Musetta returns with medicine. Mimi regains consciousness and turning to Rudolph tells him of her love. Musetta falls upon her knees in prayer and Mimi passes away in Rudolph’s arms.
_...rain or dust, cold or heat, nothing stops these bold adventurers.
Their existence of every day is a work of genius, a daily problem which they always contrive to solve with the aid of bold mathematics.
When want presses them, abstemious as anchorites—but, if a little fortune falls into their hands, see them ride forth on the most ruinous fancies, loving the fairest and youngest, drinking the oldest and best wines, and not finding enough windows whence to throw their money; then—the last crown dead and buried—they begin again to dine at the table d’hote of chance, where their cover is always laid; smugglers of all the industries which spring from art; in chase, from morning till night, of that wild animal which is called the crown.
“Bohemia” has a special dialect, a distinct jargon of its own. This vocabulary is the hell of rhetoric and the paradise of neologism_.
A gay life; yet a terrible one!
(Il. MURGER, preface to “Vie de Boheme")
[Footnote 1: Rather than follow Murger’s novel step by step, the authors of the present libretto, both for reasons of musical and dramatic effect, have sought to derive inspiration from the French writer’s admirable preface.
Although they have faithfully portrayed the characters, even displaying a certain fastidiousness as to sundry local details; albeit in the scenic development of the opera they have followed Murger’s method of dividing the libretto into four separate acts, in the dramatic and comic episodes they have claimed that ample and entire freedom of action, which, rightly or wrongly, they deemed necessary to the proper scenic presentment of a novel the most free, perhaps, in modern literature.
Yet, in this strange book, if the characters of each person therein stand out clear and sharply defined, we often may perceive that one and the same temperament bears different names, and that it is incarnated, so to speak, in two different persons. Who cannot detect in the delicate profile of one woman the personality both of Mimi and of Francine? Who, as he reads of Mimi’s “little hands, whiter than those of the Goddess of Ease,” is not reminded of Francine’s little muff?