Physical ailments are never far from the character’s minds in La Bohème. Fitting, then, that the new revival of the Covent Garden staging went ahead without recasting, even after Roberto Aronica, its Rodolfo, tore a knee cartilage in rehearsals. He is now walking with a limp and with the aid of a stick. The director John Copley, apparently took this in his (able-bodied) stride and adapted the production accordingly. The critical reaction has been largely positive; Tim Ashley observed that the limp 'looks incredibly natural - as if this were the way Puccini always intended the role to be played'.
Reading this, I was reminded of a recent episode of the Simpsons, in which Homer becomes an opera singer (Season 19, episode 2). It transpires (for typically convoluted reasons) that Homer has a fine operatic tenor voice, but only when he lies flat on his back. The episode culminates in a performance of La Bohème with Homer in the lead role and the staging adapted to accommodate his unusual condition. At the Royal Opera’s curtain call, roles were reversed, with Cristina Gallardo-Domâs as the recently deceased Mimi assisting the still living (if slightly lame) Rodolfo onto the stage. Fortunately for her, Aronica’s condition was not as disruptive as Homer’s, and she was not required to rise from her death bed repeatedly in the closing scene to allow Rodolfo to sing each of his lines lying down.