First off, watch this video before you read this, as there are subtitles on the screen so you'll know what's happening!
This is one my favorite arias in the repertoire.
It's like chocolate. It's decadent and creamy and wonderful. I know it's weird hearing someone talk about music like it's food, but sometimes there's no other way to describe it! The chords that Puccini wrote are so beautiful and heavy, in a way, that the most similar comparison is to food. And this opera is one of his best. I mean, it doesn't get any better than this. I could talk about "Mi chiamano Mimi" for hours on end, but I'll keep it to what's relevant to us now: Spring.
La bohème means "The Bohemians" and it's about a group of (literally, much of the show) starving artists who find and lose love. Although it sounds incredibly cheesy, it's not, for the simple fact that Puccini makes his characters wonderful and fun and deeply human. Mimì is a young woman who comes to her neighbor Rodolfo when her candle has blown out and she has no more matches. After he lights her candle, she realizes that she has lost her key in his apartment. After helping her look for it, Rodolfo realizes he wants to spend more time with her, and pockets the key once he finds it so they can get to know each other a bit longer. (Cute, right?)
As they talk, they each sing an aria and we quickly learn that Mimì loves the spring and its warmth. It seems sweet at the beginning, but as the show goes on, it becomes clear that Mimì has consumption. Consumption is an illness that leaves you cold all the time - the warmth isn't simply nice, it's life-saving. Mimì loves the spring as no other character can. She sings of the sun with adoration. You know that feeling of stepping in a hot bath after being in the snow all day? Imagine that times a thousand.
Listen to the way Puccini sets the section where she talks about the sun. All of a sudden, the entire orchestra is working in tandem as Mimì lets the idea of being warm spread through her. Puccini also sets the entire aria conversationally; notice the way Mimì repeats herself because she doesn't know what else to say, or the fact that she, embarrassed, says she doesn't know how to talk about herself after she spent the whole aria doing so!
This aria is truly a masterpiece, and perfectly appropriate for today, the first day of spring!
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