With a bright squiggle of yellow paint on a canvas, director Baz Luhrmann stamped his "La Boheme" as something new the moment the music started at the Curran Theatre in October. Period movie posters and neon signs loomed over Paris. The bohemian roommates wore T-shirts and leather jackets and loved bebop. In order to meet the eight-show-a-week demands of a commercial theater run, Luhrmann cast a round- robin company with three Rodolfo-and-Mimi teams and two Marcello/Musetta pairs. Best known for such anachronism-soaked movies as "Moulin Rouge" and a modern-day "Romeo + Juliet," Luhrmann created a production that reveled in artifice instead of trying to ignore it. Luhrmann's 1950s conception and visual imagery for "Boheme" (designed by his wife, Catherine Martin) was first worked out in a 1990 production at the Sydney Opera House. By presenting the work in Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica's original Italian (albeit with puckish supertitles that reference Marlon Brando and a Rolls-Royce), Luhrmann preserved the opera's vital fusion of music and word. By casting, staging and selling it in the Broadway marketplace, he was reaching to fulfill Puccini's dream of telling a heart-stopping story of young love and early death to a broad popular audience. By the Dec. 8 opening in New York, they had refined and made funnier some of the stage business, lightened a set piece, added supplementary supertitle panels and relaxed some of the tempos. There may not be another director in the world who can create the kind of charged atmosphere Luhrmann can by branding his name on a production.