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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Metropolitan Opera Preview: La Rondine

The Met presents the return of Puccini's bittersweet rarity.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
On the couch: Kristine Opilais as Magda in La Rondine.
Image © 2013 The Metropolitan Opera.
La Rondine ("The Swallow") is not a complicated story, but it has the misfortune of being neither tragedy (nobody dies) nor comedy (it has a sad ending). The opera falls between two stools, and as a result has never earned a place at the table.

Rare bird though it is, this is still a mature product of Giacomo Puccini's later years. (It premiered in 1917, and follows La Fanciilla del West in the composer's catalogue.) Puccini's heady music is redolent of the gilded age, depicting the world of a "kept woman" in early 20th century Paris with gorgeous dance rhythms. There are parts for two leading sopranos--and two leading tenors.

This stylish production was originally conceived in 2008 for the so-called "love couple," Angela Gheorghiu and Roberta Alagna. With Ms. Gheorghiu currently persona non grata at Peter Gelb's Met (not to mention in the middle of a nasty divirce with Mr. Alagna) this revival offers Kristine Opilais her chance for a house debut. Giuseppe Filianoti is Ruggero, the man she loves and ultimately, rejects.

La Rondine opens Jan. 11, 2013.


Recording Recommendation:
London Symphony Orchestra cond. Antonio Pappano (EMI, 1997)
Magda: Angela Gheorghiu
Ruggero: Roberto Alagna

Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna did much for the status of La Rondine in the last two decades. This EMI recording (conducted with grace by Antonio Pappano) is the best place to start appreciating ths lost Puccini gem.

Return to the Superconductor 2012-2013 Metropolitan Opera Season Preview.


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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.