Giacomo Puccini has written a number of operas, including Turandot, Gianni Schicchi, and Madama Butterfly. La Bohème is said to be “one of the most successful and enchanting operas ever written.” Written in the romantic period, the text and score interrelations play an important role in an overall aesthetically and historically pleasing opera. In a story of love found and love lost, Puccini uses text and score to create empathy for the characters of La Boheme. Puccini does so particularly in the aria Donde lieta uscì, sung by Mimi towards the end of Act III.
Mimi introduces herself as a seamstress and neighbor looking for Rudolpho to light her candle. They soon develop a romantic relationship which becomes a major plot line in the opera. She is suffering of consumption and her health deteriorates as the opera goes on. By the third act, her health has taken a major hit, and it has been made clear that she is dying. Rudolpho begins to estrange Mimi, feigning jealousy but he soon reveals that he is afraid to watch Mimi die. When Mimi overhears this she confronts Rudolpho and sings this aria as a goodbye.
The aria begins with violins, playing the first line of Mimi’s first aria, Mia chiamano Mimi. By this time in the opera, this has become a theme for Mimi and Rodolpho’s love. She begins singing Donde lieta uscì al tuo grido d’amore, torn sola Mimì solitaro nido, which translates to I came happily to respond to your call of love, Mimì returns alone to her solitary nest. The melody in the soprano line rises chromatically, with a leap of a fifth at the end of the first phrase, then descends chromatically leaping a fifth to end on E-flat. This creates a dissonance that reflects Mimi’s sadness. This dissonance is also present in the instrumental parts of this part of the aria, as the orchestra follows the soprano with homophony.
Mimi goes on to explain that she will be alone again to her seamstress work. Although there is...