Bert’s ‘La Boheme’ moment !!!

Bert tells the Melbourne ‘Table Talk’ journo whose column was called the ‘The Interviewer’ the following account of his trip east in 1904..

Having money in hand he travelled parlor-car, broke the journey here and there to go sightseeing, but had to stop at Chicago in order to obtain a little more work, and so raise funds for the rest of his journey‘.

Chicago street scene early 1900s.

No more information has been found on Bert’s short time in Chicago, however, he wrote a piece describing the ‘Chicago Jewish Ghetto’ * published in early 1905. (next post) * his description not mine…

Bert seemed quite pleased to be able to say he arrived in New York flat broke.. The ‘La Boheme’ theme gets an airing by him quite a few times.. As you know from a prior post, he had befriended Puccini on the voyage from London to New York a year earlier in 1910, so no doubt it was a fresh in his mind.

Quick account on the ‘La Boheme’ theme… (yes, I’ve had to look it up)

Puccini’s opera, La Boheme was first performed in Turin in 1896. 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. La bohème is based on Henri Murger‘s 1851 novel, Scènes de la vie de bohème, a collection of vignettes portraying young bohemians living in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840s. 

Bert may have seen the opera when first performed in Melbourne in July 1901. He had just returned to Melbourne after 18 months in Bendigo. The Age newspaper previews the performance, no doubt taking in the ‘PR blurb’ given to them by the promoters.

Bert must have been in the cheap seats or had a freebie as he doesn’t crack a mention as a VIP guest or having paid for an expensive seat as published by the ‘Arena’ publication a few days after the opening. Here is the ‘A Listers’ as they say in 1901.. totally irrelevant, I know.. but a few well known Melburnian names from 1901..

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