The crowd scene outside Café Momus in Act II of Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème is opera at its entrancing best.

Children’s chorus, hawkers hawking, Parpignol, the gaily dressed toy seller, well, Parpignolling, in his caravan toyshop drawn by a phlegmatic horse, hailed straight off the Central Park carriage line. Marching soldiers, triumphant Musetta, cuckolded old lecher Alcinodoro.