why La Boheme? Indeed . . .

Loretta and Ronny at La Boheme

A friend of mine saw Moonstruck for the first time this weekend on my recommendation. Don’t you just love when your friends watch movies you love, and they end up loving them, too?

Anyhoo, I had Moonstruck on the brain since the Academy Awards–I’d included it in blog post about my favorite Oscar-winning movies with opera as a backdrop or subplot. As my friend and I discussed Moonstruck today, re-enacting our favorite scenes (of course, these included the “Snap-out-of-it!” scene), she asked, “Why La Bohème?” meaning, why did the screenwriter have Ronny (Nicolas Cage) take Loretta (Cher) to see La Bohème at the Met–where one could see almost any opera one wished.

I’m not sure what the screenwriter, John Patrick Shanley, would have said in response to this question other than “Puccini never feels dated,” which he once remarked in an interview. But now that I’ve been a formal student of opera for almost nine months (yes, one could liken it to a pregnancy, with this blog being the bouncing baby with 1o fingers and ten toes and an Apgar Score of 9), but, oddly, I feel comfortable making an educated guess.

La Bohème is one of the most performed operas in the United States. The music and the story are by many accounts accessible to those who rarely or have never been to the opera. In fact, one site I know of spells out exactly why La Bohème is the perfect opera for inexperienced operagoers to cut their teeth on.

Besides being a popular classic opera, La Bohème is also a classic tear-jerker. Though I’ll stop short of calling Puccini the Nicholas Sparks of the opera world because I don’t want to receive a spate of nast-e-grams, one leaves La Bohème with the same aftertaste of pathos as having read or watched Sparks’ A Walk to Remember. It has deep appeal to the hopeless romantics among us who love having a good cry now and then, and just like A Walk to Remember, it has lots of emotional hooks to latch on to, including the untimely death of a young woman from a tragic illness who leaves behind a man who not only loves her beyond reason but may never love again.

Not only is the storyline of La Bohème accessible, but the music is beautiful–without equivocation. No one can argue that Puccini didn’t write and orchestrate gorgeous melodies. The music possesses inexplicable power to move the soul–to make you weep like a bambino.

So, back to the question at hand: Why La Bohème? If you were Ronny Cammareri, Nicolas Cage’s character, and really wanted and needed to take a woman to your bed, you’d be guaranteed a roll in the hay if you took her to La Bohème–maybe even more than one roll, depending on your potency. She’d automatically peg you as a sensitive guy who liked playing Scrabble and shopping at the Pottery Barn, or who’d move all your chick flicks to the top of your shared Netflix queue–even ahead of The Hurt Locker–just because your happiness is paramount.

Why La Bohème, indeed.


Filed under Classic Opera

5 Responses to why La Boheme? Indeed . . .

  1. John Fembup

    I think the opera and the movie share a theme of death, but in different ways.

    La Boheme ends with death. Moonstruck begins with death: the opening shot in Moonstruck is a corpse in a mortuary. Why do men chase women? Because they fear death. But Ronny and Loretta awaken, and chase life. We know Loretta and Ronny being each other life as they gasp “I was dead”. And relationships all around them that had been dying – even Johnnys mother in Sicily- come back to life. Your life is not built on nothing . . . te’amo.

    Why an opera in the first place? For me it says this Brooklyn love story is just as beautiful, timeless, and meaningful, as classical opera. Not to mention that this surprising Brooklyn baker is not simply a sweating laborer in a basement, but a man who appreciates finer things.

    btw, Moonstrick is my all-time favorite movie, just a nidge above Groundhog Day.

    • Gale

      I love Moonstruck, too. And also Groundhog Day. I compliment you on your taste in movies. And thank you for visiting.

  2. Anoymous

    There is so much more than “Ronnie wants to get Loretta in bed.”

    La Bohema is the story of two young lovers who are forced to be apart, despite that they love each other immensely, they are forced to give up their love, just like Ronnie and Loretta of Moonstruck. In the end of each story the two sets of lovers decide that love is most important and run back to each other’s arms.

    Ronnie has lost his woman and thinks he has no capacity to ever love again, so the tragedy of La Bohema would speak directly to his pain.

    Rodolfo and Mimi of La Bohema also fall in love for the first time under moonlight, which is kind of sorta a huge deal in Moonstruck.

  3. Gale

    Thanks for visiting, Linda Kaye. Do stop back!

  4. Linda Kaye

    I love it, Gale! Thanks for the explanation!!