Four friends live in poverty in a Parisian garret. Rodolfo is a poet, Marcello a painter, Colline a philospher and Schaunard a musician. They avoid paying rent to their landlord Benoit by getting him drunk. When they go out to eat, Marcello's ex-lover Musetta arrives with an ageing admirer, making him jealous. Rodolfo has meanwhile taken 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. Performances from Mirella Freni, Adriane Martino, Gianni Raimondi, Rolando Panerai, Gianni Maffeo, Ivo Vinco, and the Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala.