La Bohème and Rent

I love both La Bohème and Rent- without La Bohème, Rent would NOT exist. That is because Rent is based off of La Bohème. How different is Rent from La Bohème-obviously both are sad, but there still are differences?

Characters: SPOILERS

Rodolfo vs Roger

  • In La Bohème, the main male character is Rodolofo. He does fall in love with the fragile and vulnerable Mimi. He is a poet. Many characters in La Bohème are living in poverty, are artists and are bohemians. He is living with Colline, Schunard, and Marcello.
  • In Rent, Rodolfo ends up becoming Roger. So, he is a struggling musician living with his best friend, Mark. He has HIV and is dealing with depression at the beginning of Rent after his recent girlfriend killed herself after finding out she has HIV (that is how Roger found out he has HIV). His main goal is to write one last song before he dies. He is kind of scared to enter a new relationship and is unwilling to leave the house.

Mimi vs Mimi

  • La Bohème is a tragic love story, so Mimi is the other 1/2. It is Rodolfo and Mimi’s story. She is the most fragile and vulnerable of the two. It is Mimi, who ends up dying- you know for a fact from the time Rodolfo met Mimi to her death that they had true love for each other. As a matter of fact Rodolfo and Mimi fall in love in a similar way than Roger and Mimi: through some kind of candlelight.
  • In Rent, they do not change Mimi’s name- Roger and Mimi stay the main couple. They have a struggling relationship. Mimi is a drug addict, dancer, and has HIV. Mimi is what allows Roger to finally come out of his shell. They had love for each other all long- they are my favorite of all three Rent couples. I do think Mimi from Rent is the most fragile and vulnerable of all of them. She has a slightly different fate then Mimi from La Bohème- Mimi ALMOST died in Rent, but survived.

Marcello vs Mark

  • Like I already said, he lives with Rodolfo, Schunard, and Colline. He is an artist. In La Bohème, he is in a relationship with Musetta.
  • In Rent, Mark is the narrator and a filmmaker. He recently broke up with Maureen. He is one of those who does not have HIV, but still affected by it since he has to see his friends suffer from it. After all, Roger is his best friend and they live together-he actually has four friends who deal with HIV (Roger, Angel, Mimi, and Collins).

Schunard vs Angel

  • It took some time for me to figure out who was Angel’s counterpart in La Bohème, but soon figured it out. Angel’s last name was Schunard and Schunard in La Bohème did end up killing a parrot (doesn’t that sound familiar to the dog in Rent?). Schunard actually doesn’t even have romantic partner.
  • A major difference between Schunard and Angel is that Angel now has a romantic interest. He and Collins become a couple- those two make every moment count since they both have HIV. Roger/Mimi and Maureen/Joanne struggle and fight at times or go in and out of the relationship even though things eventually work out in the end. They are one of the few non-heterosexual couples I have seen in a musical.

Colline vs Collins (still feel like I barely know him in both)

  • The best thing I know about him in La Bohème is that he is friends with Rodolfo, Schunard, and Marcello.
  • Collins, in Rent, has HIV and ends up in a relationship with Angel. He is gay.

Musetta vs Maureen

  • Musetta, in some ways, does provide some moments of comic relief in La Bohème. She is crazy and in a relationship with Marcello. She can be a sweet person, but still crazy. She was sweet with Mimi when she was at her weakest. The craziness is how I was able to figure out her counterpart in Rent.
  • Maureen, is crazy-no joke about that. She is a performance artist and is in a relationship with Joanne, but she can’t help but flirt with other boys, which annoys Joanne. Maureen still has her sweet side-like when everyone thought Mimi was dying, you do see it and in other moments. She is bisexual.

( ) vs Joanne

  • Here’s the thing about Joanne, she has no counterpart in La Bohème. She was added to Rent. That is what allowed a third couple to enter-Maureen/Joanne are a couple, which is the most problematic couple in Rent. They are the two who are fighting the most. Joanne is a lawyer. Another non-heterosexual couple.

Bonit vs Benny

  • Bonit is basically a minor character in La Bohème, but he is the landlord of Rodolfo’s apartment.
  • What Rent did with Bonit is make him a major character. Benny still is a character and still the landlord of where Roger, Mark, and Mimi live (that is who lives there), but serves more as the antagonist. He actually is much more of a character in Rent than La Bohème.


There are some differences with the plot. Both are still sad.

Different time periods and locations: La Bohème (France-1830) and Rent (East Side of NYC-1980s or 1990s).

How they met is slightly different (Rodolfo and Mimi)- Still some kind of candlelight, but what Mimi dropped is different. In La Bohème, it is her key and in Rent, it is her drug pouch.

Disease change: Tuberculosis to HIV/AIDS- that had to do with time period change.

Number of relationships: 2 to 3: (Rudlofo/Mimi and Marcello/Musetta) to (Roger/Mimi, Angel/Collins, Maureen/Joanne)

Death: that changed. Mimi died in La Bohème while it was Angel in Rent. However, Mimi ALMOST died in Rent.

Animal- well, Angel (Schnauard) killed a parrot in La Bohème, and it was a dog in Rent

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s