Sunday, June 2, 2013

La Boheme RENT act 1 (part1)

Ok, I have to start off by telling some great news! As the majority of the opera web people know Joyce DiDonato has started a project called Joyce and Me so that her fans can help her produce her 10th year anniversary double CD with her record company. As I am a good fan girl when she gave the fans the first task I was quick to get on there to leave my opinion. She wanted suggestions for the CD name, immediately what came to my mind was ReJoyce, simply because it’s perfect! But a lot of other people also suggested that one and it was indeed the name that ended up winning the competition with 47% of the votes! And as Joyce is a terrific human being, in the video she thanked EVERYONE who had send the ReJoyce suggestion, first of all my friend Sydney, then Jamie and Aksel and most surprisingly ME! Yes, she said my name in one of her fantastic videos, it’s there for all the world to see. She mispronounced my last name but WHO CARES? Everyone mispronounces my last name anyways! So I’m really happy and YAY!
So, as I promised long ago I should probably post my La Boheme RENT project, first act, because it’s really really long so, here we go!
Both pieces begin in the same place, the old apartment Marcello/Mark and Rodolfo/Roger share. The similarities begin to appear from that point on, in both cinematographic productions of both pieces the apartments look very much alike. One room apartments, big windows, a lot of old furniture and disorganization and dirt in general.

Image from La Boheme's 2008 movie

Image from the 2004 RENT movie

Both first scenes are set in the same date in time of year, Christmas Eve, showing that even on festive times the life of some people is quite miserable. While in La Boheme Marcello, the painter, paints a picture of the Red Sea, in RENT Mark starts filming his new documentary film. Both characters work with visual arts and try and show through it how the world really is. That is more evident in Mark’s work since he’s making a documentary about the life of the people who live in Alphabet City (that could easily be a correspondent of the Latin Quarter from La Boheme in Paris, where artists lived in the end of the 19th century, a place also infested with poverty). But Marcello himself in his first line shows a bit of rebellion towards a government figure when he says “Per vendicarmi, affogo un Faraon!” (And so to avenge myself, I’ll drown a Pharaoh)
Now Rodolfo is more reflective about things, just like Roger he can’t seem to do his art, they both seem hollow without much to live for. It is really one of those frightfully cold December days and since Rodolfo and Marcello don’t have money for firewood to keep themselves warm. Something very similar happens in RENT since all of a sudden they lose power and are consequently without heating. In La Boheme Marcello and Rodolfo decide to burn Rodolfo’s play, act by act to warm themselves and agree not to burn the paintings since they leave an awful smell when burnt. But Mark’s creations are not spared from the firewood in RENT and he and Roger burn his screenplays as well as Roger’s old posters from when he was famous.

Exerpt from the La Boheme libretto (Rip it! Now light it! Rodolfo sets fire to part of the manuscript, then they both pull up their chairs, sit down and warm themselves in the voluptuous heat)
Exerpt from RENT's opening number "RENT"

Image from La Boheme's 2008 movie

Image from the 2004 RENT movie, featuring Adam Pascal as Roger (left) and Anthony Rapp as Mark (right)

While Rodolfo’s play burns, Colline, a philosopher, arrives and we learn at this very moment that it is indeed Christmas Eve in Colline’s line “In giorno di vigília non si accettano pegni!” (No one will accept pledges, on the day of Christmas Eve!). In RENT Collins makes it to the building door but is attacked by robbers who steal his coat and beat him up. And because of that Collins and Angel actually meet and she helps him get on his feet. Collins and Angel would be the equivalent of Colline and Schaunard, the philosopher and the musician. But unlike in La Boheme, where these characters know each other and are friends, in RENT this is their first encounter who fall in love at first sight.
And so the characteristics of one character of La Boheme start going to more than one character in RENT. Collins and Angel represent one side of Rodolfo and Mimi’s relationship, the tender and loving side. And what is more interesting, and at the time of RENT’s premiere polemic, is that the musical shows that a homosexual couple can have a normal relationship just like any other couple. Moreover that the beautiful side of one of the most famous couples in opera history can be revitalized in a same sex couple.
Back to the story, after the total destruction of Rodolfo’s play, Schaunard, the musician, arrives. And he does so filled with food, firewood, wine and cigarettes. He then tells how he was able to buy all those things, an English lord was in need of a musician and Schaunard presented himself thinking he would be giving music lessons. But the Lord actually wanted him to play until his parrot died, and so he played for 3 whole days and the animal was still alive. But he was lucky to get into the maid’s good graces, she prepared a paste with poison and after giving it to the animal it finally died. In RENT the story repeats itself, since a millionaire from Manhattan makes a deal with Angel that if she played her drums until her neighbor’s dog died she’d be more than well remunerated. And so after an hour of incessant drumming the dog finally gives in and throws itself off the twenty third floor.
Exerpt from the La Boheme libretto (...An English Lord...Lord...Milord, or whatever, wanted a musician...Me? I fly to present myself. He takes me on, I ask him... ...when should we start our lessons?..."Right now old chap!"... "Look!" he says and he points to a parrot on the first floor, then adds:"until the parrot dies you go on playing."... And that's what happened: I played for three long days...I'm a good looking fellow so I exercised my charm and won the maid's affection. ..I prepared a parsley mix... Lorito spread his wings out, Lorito opened up his beak; I fed him my parsley mix. And then like Socrates, he died!)

Exerpt from the song "Today for You, Tomorrow for Me" from RENT 
Wow, I’m really tired, I’m gonna make it a day and post the second part from the first act later. I’m not really in a very Boheme vibe; I can’t actually stop listening to Eugene Onegin, very different stuff haha

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