Sometimes I think Puccini is like Wagner for Italian opera. It is high drama, usually ending in the death of the main character(s). La Bohème is no exception, but here the hero is Mimi, a lowly seamstress. She is suffering from some disease, probably tuberculosis. During the story she is slowly getting weaker, finally dying in the arms of her love.
Mimi is also leading the life of a Paris bohemian, in the Quartier Latin. Most of her friends are artists from the fringes of society. The four acts are like little vignettes of her life, but they also tell the story of her love Rodolfo.
When Puccini died in 1924, this opera was performed in Rome. When the conductor found out, he stopped the opera, and started playing Chopin’s Funeral march in his honour.
This recording was made in 1959, so this re-release is a historical one. I usually don’t like these, since they generally sound very flat. But I was amazed with the sound. It is also considered one of the classic recordings of the opera. As a curiosity, exactly this recording was used for the score of the 1987 movie Moonstruck, starring Nicolas Cage and Cher.