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La Bohème’s Mimi vs.

Rent’s Mimi
Audiences are introduced to Mimi in both the opera and the musical as the
sweet and seductive “girl next door” whose candle has gone out.
In La Bohème, Mimi – a seamstress – asks her neighbor Rodolfo for
matches to light her candle. The two flirt and fall in love during arias like
Che gelida manina – “What a cold little hand” and Sì, mi chiamano Mimì –
“Yes, they call me Mimì.” The audience learns during the opera that Mimi is
plagued by tuberculosis, which ultimately leads to her death.
In “Rent,” Mimi is a night club dancer addicted to heroin who asks her
neighbor Rodger to light her candle after her heat is turned off next door.
The two similarly flirt and fall in love throughout the duet “Light My Candle.”
The song ends with Mimi declaring, “They call me Mimi.” Mimi, like many
other characters in the musical, suffers from AIDS. After living on the
streets and leaving rehab, the disease almost kills her. But unlike in La
Bohème, Mimi appears to die, but suddenly awakens. She was heading to
the light, but another character, who did lose their life to AIDS, told her to
go back.

La Bohème’s Rodolfo vs. Rent’s Rodger

Although La Bohème’s Rodolfo is a poet, while Rodger in “Rent” is a
songwriter and ex-junkie, they have quite a lot in common.
In both La Bohème and “Rent,” audiences are taken by the characters of
Rodolfo and Rodger. Both experience joy and pain, and both are moved by
their need for love. Rodolfo and Rodger are sentimental, thoughtful
dreamers who are loved by their friends for their sense of humor. But after
their friends leave them alone in the beginning of each production, we see
that both characters are missing something in their lives. Rodolfo admits he
is uninspired to write an article for a local newspaper, while Rodger mourns
the loss of his last girlfriend to AIDS in the song “One Song Glory,” which
speaks of his desire to write just one more song.
After each character falls for their respective Mimi after seeing her beauty
in the moonlight, as Rodolfo sings in O soave fanciulla – “Oh lovely girl,”
their worlds are turned upside down. Throughout the productions,
audiences begin to see the characters’ fear of love as each pull away from
Mimi. But both Rodolfo and Rodger fully embrace their feelings as she is on
her deathbed.

La Bohème’s Marcello vs. Rent’s Mark

In La Bohème and in “Rent,” Marcello and Mark represent the incredibly
loyal best friend who struggles with loving a promiscuous woman.
After leaving the cold apartment that he shares with Rodolfo, La Bohème’s
Marcello – a painter – must endure his ex-lover, Musetta, singing about her
many admirers. But what Marcello does not know is that the song is a ploy
to win him back. Throughout the opera, we see that Marcello is a character
others can trust. Mimi confides in him her frustration with Rodolfo’s jealousy
during O buon Marcello, aiuto! – “Oh, good Marcello, help me!” and Rodolfo
later confesses to Marcello that his jealousy is a cover-up for his worries
about Mimi’s terrible cough, which he fears is Tuberculosis.
Mark’s ex-lover in “Rent” is Maureen. But unlike the characters of La
Bohème, Mark bonds with Maureen’s new lover during the duet “Tango
Maureen,” where both share their experiences of Maureen’s cheating. Mark
is also trusted by many characters. We see this as the members of an
AIDS support group open up to him and allow him to film them for a
documentary he is making. The film later pays tribute to the characters of
“Rent” who lost their lives to the disease.

La Bohème’s Schaunard vs. Rent’s Angel Dumott Schunard

In both the opera and the musical, one character is very fortunate in the
beginning of the productions and becomes less fortunate as the story
La Bohème’s Schaunard, the musician of the group, arrives to the
apartment with food, firewood, wine, cigars, and money. He explains that
his temporary riches came from an eccentric, wealthy Englishman, who
employed him to perform music to his dying parrot. But as the year passes,
Schaunard’s riches diminish until the last act contrastingly shows him
arriving to the apartment with a meager amount of food.
Angel Dumott Schunard is introduced to the “Rent” story similarly. The
AIDS-positive drag queen drummer sings “Today 4 U,” during which the
audience learns that she recently acquired a large sum of money after she
was hired by a wealthy woman in a limousine to kill a neighbor’s “yappy
dog.” During the song “Contact” in the second act, the audience learns that
Angel has died of AIDS. While La Bohème ends tragically with the death of
Mimi, the character of Mimi in “Rent” lives – thanks to Angel telling her in a
hallucination to turn around and not go toward the warm, white light.

La Bohème’s Colline vs. Rent’s Collins

The character of Colline in La Bohème and of Collins in “Rent” both
experience loss, but in very different ways.
Colline, a philosopher, enters the apartment cold and unhappy in the first
act of La Bohème after he was unable to pawn some books, but his mood
soon changes after Schaunard shares the money and gifts he has earned
from the wealthy Englishman. While the group of friends still has the
money, Colline buys himself a coat and Schaunard a horn. By the last act,
after the money is all gone, Colline and Schaunard try to keep their spirits
up by pretending their small meal is a feast and engaging in a mock duel.
But as the dying Mimi enters, all sense of happiness disappears. Colline
expresses his sadness about how much things have changed from the first
act in the aria Vecchia Zimarra – “Old Coat,” as he says goodbye to coat he
bought earlier in the year in order to try to afford medicine for Mimi.
The audience meets Collins of “Rent,” who is a philosophy professor, after
he has been beaten and left for dead an in alley. Angel Dumott Schunard
finds him there and dresses his wounds. The two fall in love and sing of
how they will cover each other like a coat during the duet “I’ll cover you.”
After Angel dies, Collins is beside himself. He sings a reprise of “I’ll cover
you” at Angel’s funeral.

La Bohème’s Musetta vs. Rent’s Maureen

The role of an animated, promiscuous singer is represented by Musetta in
La Bohème and by Maureen in “Rent.”
As the roommates of La Bohème enter Café Momus to celebrate
Schaunard’s earnings, they encounter Marcello’s ex-lover Musetta, who is
escorted by a rich new suitor. As she sings about how much she enjoys
having many male admirers in Quando me’n vo’ – “When I go along,” Mimi
sees that she actually still loves Marcello. Bored with her rich suitor,
Musetta pretends that her shoe is too small and sends him off to buy her
another. While he is gone, she reunites with Marcello and charges the full
dinner bill to the rich suitor. As the opera progresses, the audience sees
that Marcello and Musetta’s love is an imperfect one, and it is very different
from Mimi and Rodolfo’s. This is obvious in the quartet that leads to
Marcello and Musetta leaving each other again: Addio dolce svegliare alla
mattina – “Goodbye, sweet awakening in the morning.” Nevertheless, as
Mimi is dying, she reminds Marcello that Musetta is good.
In “Rent,” Maureen has found a new lover after leaving Mark. Mark and
Maureen never get back together, although they flirt throughout the
musical. Maureen also loudly disapproves of the roommates’ landlord
changing his mind about whether or not they owe rent and protests this in
her performance of “Over the Moon.” Though Maureen’s new lover faces
the challenge of her infidelity several times, leading to their split in the song
“Take Me or Leave Me,” they later reconcile. The audience learns that
Maureen does value love, though she often doesn’t act like it.

Rent La Bohème

New York City - 1995 Paris - 1830


Mark and Roger warm themselves in the first scene by Rodolfo and Marcello warm themselves in the first
burning Mark’s screenplays and Roger’s music posters scene by burning Rodolfo’s 5-act drama

Mimi enters Mark and Roger’s apartment during a Mimi enters Marcello and Rodolfo’s apartment looking
power outage, looking for a light for her candle. Her for a light for her candle. Her first aria begins with the
first song ends with the words “They call me Mimi” words “They call me Mimi”

Roger is mesmerized by Mimi’s “hair in the moonlight” Rodolfo sings of Mimi’s “sweet visage [persons face
with reference to the form or proportions of the
features] bathed in a soft lunar dawn”

Maureen sings “Every single day, I walk down the Musetta sings “When I walk alone through the street,
street, I hear people say ‘Baby so sweet.’ Ever since people stop and stare and all seek in my my beauty from
puberty, everybody stares at me: boys, girls, I can’t help head to foot”
it baby!”

Angel is hired to kill an annoying dog by drumming Schaunard is hired to kill an annoying parrot by
incessantly “incessant musical performance”

Roger says he wants to leave town because Mimi has Rodolfo says he wants to stop his relationship with
renewed her relationship with her previous boyfriend, Mimi because she is flirtatious, but eventually reveals to
but Mark encourages him to admit that he is afraid that Marcello that she is also deathly ill
she will soon die and does not want to grow too close to

After Roger and Mimi’s seperation, Maureen finds After Rodolfo and Mimi’s separation, Musetta meets
Mimi “Freezing” in a park and brings her to Mark and Mimi, who is “so cold” on the street and takes her to
Rogers Marcello and Rodolfo’s

As Mimi lies dying, she says to Roger, “I should tell As Mimi dies, she says “I have so many things I want to
you - I love you” tell you … you are my love and all my life!”

Mimi nearly dies of AIDS at the end of the musical Mimi dies of tuberculosis at the end of the opera