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<<  -- 3 --  Robert Anderson    RADIANCE OF RECONCILIATION


The emotional upsets of Act 3 take place against a background of steadily falling snow, wonderfully suggested by Puccini as the scavengers shiver before being admitted into the city at the customs post; Musetta is in a nearby tavern [listen -- Quadro Terzo, La barriera d'Enfer]. This is no place for Mimi and her coughing fits, but she wants to confide in Marcello the unreasonable jealousy of Rodolfo that has caused their break-up. Marcello tells her that Rodolfo has slept in the tavern. It is difficult not to admire Zeffirelli's conjuring of a bleak February morning, but he is merciless with his endless supply of outsize snowflakes that can only confirm the ruin of Mimi's health as she agrees to a final parting from Rodolfo, which is immediately revoked [listen -- Quadro Terzo, La barriera d'Enfer].

Back in what is again a bachelor garret, Rodolfo and Marcello are trying to write and paint; but the one has seen Musetta dressed to the nines in a carriage, while the other caught a glimpse of Mimi splendid in the Viscount's equipage. An unsuccessful attempt at Bohemian jollification is interrupted by the arrival of Musetta with Mimi, who could hardly drag herself up the stairs. It is obvious Mimi is dying. Musetta sells earrings for medicine, Colline the second-hand coat for a doctor. Finally Mimi in extremity recapitulates the music of her love for Rodolfo [listen -- Quadro Quarto, In Soffitta]. It remains for Zeffirelli to stage Mimi's death in such a way it is almost impossible not to weep, were it not that Puccini is so determined we should.

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Copyright © 23 December 2004 Robert Anderson, London UK


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