This manuscript transmits ten measures from the so-called "Sextet" in the opera's second act, corresponding to pages 207 (measure 2) through 210 (measure 1) of the current published orchestral score. The passage forms part of the middle section of a tripartite structure that begins and ends with the renowned "Musetta's Waltz" ("Quando m'en vo"). At this point in the plot, the inhabitants of Paris's Latin Quarter, gathering to celebrate Christmas Eve at the Cafe Momus, witness the spectacle of Musetta's successful attempt to win back her lover. The section as a whole presented a problem for Puccini's librettists, who had to reconcile its function as the old-fashioned, static set piece of the act with the composer's demands for picturesque "episodes" to aid characterization. Such problems were indicative of this collaboration, with the seasoned dramatist (Illica) and the sensitive poet (Giacosa) on the one hand, and Puccini, the demanding composer, on the other.
Copyright © 1999 Library of Congress. This chapter first appeared in The Rosaleen Moldenhauer Memorial: Music from Primary Sources.
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Fairtile, Linda B. "A Fragment from Act II of Giacomo Puccini's La Boheme." In The Rosaleen Moldenhauer Memorial: Music from Primary Sources, edited by Jon Newsom, 358-366. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1999.