Love is in Da Blog – Feb 19: Che gelida manina! La Bohème #LoIsInDaBl23

Today’s Love is in Da Blog prompt is ‘choose your own‘.

My understanding of the Italian language is limited to a handful of words and a few phrases, but I absolutely love the Italian opera La Bohème, especially the first song Rodolfo sings to Mimi, Che gelida manina!. This is a song of one lonely soul reaching out to another lonely heart. I don’t have to understand every word of the lyrics, because the love-at-first-sight emotion is clear in their voices, expressions, and body language. Plus, the music itself is romanticly expressive.

La Bohème, Giacomo Puccini’s famous opera, is a story of a group of people living in near poverty in a Paris apartment building in the 1830s. The opera is loosely based on the novel Scenes de la vie de Boheme by Henri Murger.

The video below is from the 2008 movie version of La Bohème with Rolando Villazón singing Rodolfo and Anna Netrebko singing Mimi.

Scene Set-Up to Che gelida mania!

It is Christmas Eve. Mimi shows up at Rodolfo’s apartment on the pretext that her candle flame has gone out, and she doesn’t have a means to re-light it. What she really wants is to meet him, and she has extinguished her candle deliberately.

Mimi knocks on Rodolfo’s door. He invites her inside. Mimi faints for a few moments. When she comes-to, Rodolfo offers her a drink and to warm herself near his meager fire.

When she fainted, she dropped her apartment key. They search for it together on the floor in the muted lighting. Rodolfo conceals that he’s found her key, because he doesn’t want her to leave. In the continuing search for the key, their hands accidentally meet. Rodolfo’s aria Che gelida manina! begins at 20 minutes into the opera.

Rough English Translation of the Song Che gelida manina! (What a frozen little hand)

Rodolfo says her hand is so small and cold, and he’ll warm it for her. He tells her it’s useless to look for the key in the dark, and he sings of how lovely the moon is shining upon them.

He implores her to stay, because he wants to tell her who he is, what he does, and how he lives.

He says he’s a poet. He writes. He lives by living in carefree poverty. He ‘squanders rhymes and love songs like a lord’. In his dreams and visions and castles in the air, he’s a millionaire.

Then unexpectedly, two pretty eyes, like the ones that came in with her, stole his heart. The theft doesn’t anger him, though, because she has brought hope to him that his dreams could come true with her.

Now that he has told her who he is, it is her turn to tell about herself.

Mimi sings next, and she tells him who she is in her first aria, Sì, mi chiamano Mimì.

Until next time,
Kaye Spencer
writing through history one romance upon a time

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