Menotti was commissioned by Peter Herman Adler, director of NBC's new opera programming, to write the first opera for television. The composer had trouble settling on a subject for the opera, but took his inspiration from Hieronymus Bosch's The Adoration of the Magi hanging in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
As the airdate neared, Menotti had yet to finish the score. The singers had little time to rehearse, and received the final passages of the score just days before the broadcast. The composer's partner Samuel Barber was brought in to complete the orchestrations. After the dress rehearsal, NBC Symphony conductor Arturo Toscanini told Menotti, "This is the best you've ever done."
Menotti distinctly wanted Amahl to be performed by a boy. In the "Production Notes" contained in the Piano-Vocal score he wrote: "It is the express wish of the composer that the role of Amahl should always be performed by a boy. Neither the musical nor the dramatic concept of the opera permits the substitution of a woman costumed as a child."
Thomas Schippers - conductor
La bohème is an opera in four acts, composed by Giacomo Puccini between 1893 and 1895 to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa, based on Scènes de la vie de bohème (1851) by Henri Murger. The story is set in Paris around 1830, and shows the Bohemian lifestyle (known in French as "la bohème") of a poor seamstress and her artist friends.
The world premiere of La bohème was in Turin on February 1, 1896 at the Teatro Regio, conducted by the 28-year-old Arturo Toscanini. Since then, La bohème has become part of the standard Italian opera repertory and is one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide.