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Puccini: La Bohéme, “O soave fanciulla”

Can you guess this piece? Here’s a hint: music therapy, Italian-style…

The popularity of Puccini’s operas has led to their frequent use in Hollywood films, often considerably divorced from their original context. In the Oscar-nominated film “Awakenings,” this aria from “La Bohème” is associated with a group of catatonic patients who temporarily recover, thanks to an experimental medication. The film, which starred Robert De Niro and Robin Williams, was based on a memoire by Oliver Sacks. Sacks, a neurologist, has based several books upon his clinical experiences. Highly interested in music, Sacks has frequently studied the relationship between music and neurology. Sacks’s work has also inspired some new music. One of his case studies, “The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat,” was adapted as an opera by Michael Nyman.

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