Gianandrea Gavazzeni, that underrated conductor and incredibly interesting musicologist (those who can't read Italian are unaware of this fact because his many books and essays about Italian opera haven't been translated), once said that La Bohème makes us cry not because the music is especially moving but because it's just truly awful to see Mimi die. We just want those kids to be happy, and that's why the ending always slays us, said Gavazzeni. And Mimi's magic is so powerful that she, as we'll see, can make even the most jaded hard-a$$es cry.
And Franco Zeffirelli just told "Corriere della Sera" a fantastic story: back in the 1980s, he invited his friend Oriana Fallaci -- who wasn't particularly an opera fan -- to his La Bohème at The Metropolitan Opera (with Teresa Stratas as Mimi) (translation copyright Opera Chic kthnxbi!):
She made a bizarre entrance: dressed all in black, wearing a giant hat as large as an umbrella, to the dismay of those who were sitting behind her. Naturally, she didn't take it off. After curtain calls, she came to my dressing room and hugged me. I realized she had been crying. Mimi's story had moved her deeply. That was Oriana: tough on the outside, but a closeted Romantic. Take off that hat and show us your tears, I told her. She wiped off her tears with the back of her hand and said: "I'm furious -- I never cry".
Bonus anecdote: Fallaci once asked Zeffirelli: "Did we ever sleep together?". Frengo gracefully answered, "Sadly, no". Can you just imagine a Fallaci-Zeffirelli love child?! Run!!!
Opera Chic doesn't really care what anyone says or where anyone stands on the political spectrum. She's a huge fan of Fallaci's writings -- up to 2002 ("The Rage and the Pride"); OC has the greatest admiration for Fallaci's determination in becoming wildly successful in an appallingly sexist men's club such as Italian big league journalism in the 1950s and 1960s; Fallaci's war reporting, her famous "Interview with History", her "Inshallah" novel, are simply stunning. In her final books (by then she insisted, unwisely, on doing her own English translations, and that did not do her any favors, btw), not to mention in the opinions she cheerily shared with various interviewers. There's much to disagree with, but Fallaci had a great life, wrote some unforgettable, incredibly powerful, deeply personal journalism; and when New York needed her, and Israel needed her, and America needed her, she always stepped up to the plate.
One does not have to agree with everything a writer ever said to consider that writer a hero -- this is the case with Fallaci, for Opera Chic.