Four friends live in poverty in a Parisian garret. Rodolfo is a poet, Marcello a painter, Colline a philosopher, Schaunard a musician, and together they avoid paying rent to their landlord Benoit by getting him drunk. When Marcello's ex-lover Musetta arrives with an ageing admirer, she succeeds in making him jealous and promptly wins him back, while at the same time, Rodolfo takes up with his neighbour Mimi, who is very ill. The opera follows the fortunes and fates of the two couples in the face of poverty and death. Performed by the Royal Opera House.