A thoroughly Italian work inspired by Viennese operetta, this rarely performed Puccini gem tells the story of love between a kept woman from high society and a naïve younger man of moderate... See full summary »
A thoroughly Italian work inspired by Viennese operetta, this rarely performed Puccini gem tells the story of love between a kept woman from high society and a naïve younger man of moderate means. From the composer's fabled Act I aria, "Chi il bel sogno," to the glorious Act II cafe scene, this San Francisco Opera production features two world renowned singers at their finest: Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu and Russian tenor Misha Didyk. Ion Marin conducts La Rondine ("The Swallow") in an opulent Art Deco production design by Nicolas Joël. Written by
Puccini always has been one of my favourite composers. La Rondine is not one of his best. The music is not the problem, it is absolutely gorgeous. The problem is the plot, which is rather unbelievable. It's a nice opera, just not a great one, in my opinion that is. This San Franciscco production is entertaining, but while better than the 2008 Graham Vick-directed production I do prefer the 1972 Stratas, 2009 Met and even the 1998 Washington(despite the tacky ending) performances over it. For me the biggest let-downs of this La Rondine were the weak- strained and stolid- performance of Misha Didyk as Ruggero and the awkward set change between Acts 1 and 2 which disrupted the flow of the performance. However, while I do prefer traditional settings the production does look colourful and elegant, and the staging is appropriately tender and heartfelt. The orchestral playing is lush and the conducting nuanced, and the chorus are beautifully balanced. Angela Gheorghiu's Magda is sung with striking vocal colour with dark overall tone and high notes that positively float when required. Her Act 1 aria is beautifully sung. Anna Christy is nice and saucy as maid Lisette and Gerard Powers an equally characterful Prunier. Phillip Skinner's Rambaldo is acted with authority and vigour and his singing's pitch-perfect. All in all, entertaining and generally well sung but a smoother transition and a better tenor would have made things better. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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