Puccini’s “La Bohème”: The Love Duet, “O Soave Fanciulla”

The duet, O soave fanciulla (“O gentle maiden”) is heard in the closing moments of the first Act of Giacomo Puccini’s 1896 opera, La Bohème. It is in this moment that the struggling poet, Rodolfo, and the seamstress, Mimì, realize that they have fallen in love with one another. The opera’s love leitmotif emerges as they sing in unison, A! tu sol comandi, amor! The leitmotif is heard earlier in Act I in Rodolfo’s aria, Che gelida manina. As the curtain falls, they leave Rodolfo’s Parisian flat and step into the moonlit street.

Here is a 1982 Metropolitan Opera performance featuring Teresa Stratas and José Carreras:

This 1979 studio recording, featuring José Carreras and Katia Ricciarelli with Sir Colin Davis and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, offers high fidelity:

The young Arturo Toscanini conducted the world premiere performance of La Bohème at the Teatro Regio in Turin on February 1, 1896. Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra recorded the opera in 1946 with Licia Albanese (Mimì), Jan Peerce (Rodolfo), and Francesco Valentino (Marcello). Here is O soave fanciulla:

Recordings

  • Puccini: La Bohème, James Levine, Metropolitan Opera, Teresa Stratas, Jose Carreras, Renata Scotto, Richard Stilwell (III), Allan Monk, Amazon
  • Puccini: O soave fanciulla, osé Carreras, Katia Ricciarelli, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Sir Colin Davis Amazon
  • Puccini: La Bohème, Arturo Toscanini, Giacomo Puccini, NBC Symphony Orchestra, Licia Albanese, Jan Peerce, Francesco Valentino Amazon

Featured Image: A closeup of the original 1896 La Bohème poster by Adolfo Hohenstein

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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