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La Bohème, by Giacomo Puccini

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Metropolitan Opera / New York / Music

Remember how Nicolas Cage, the baker who had lost a hand, took Cher, the bookkeeper who had lost her husband, to the Met Opera and changed her life? The movie was called Moonstruck (1987), and the opera was La Bohème. Five years before, the Met’s time-capsule-worthy telecast of the Puccini masterpiece on January 16, 1982, had much the same effect, leaving viewers in tears. The otherworldly Teresa Stratas starred as Mimì, the waif of Paris who stitches lilies and roses in her walk-up, opposite José Carreras as the starving poet in the garret who lights her candle. Renata Scotto, heart-breaking as Mimì in the Met’s previous telecast of the opera in 1977 (opposite Luciano Pavarotti!), returned in spitfire form as the vixen Musetta. It was quite the evening—and absolutely no one would have dreamed of pooh-poohing Franco Zeffirelli’s model production, which is both intimate and, as no show at the Met may fail to be, grand. —M.G.

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