Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: La Rondine
Radio Broadcast of Saturday, January 26, 1:00 P.M.
Magda entertains her guests at her house in Paris (Monica Yunus as Yvette, David Won as Périchaud, Gheorghiu, Tony Stevenson as Gobin, David Crawford as Crébillon, Samuel Ramey as Rambaldo)
© Beth Bergman 2013
The 2012–13 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored by
Toll Brothers, America's luxury home builder®, with generous long-term support from
The Annenberg Foundation, The Neubauer Family Foundation,
the Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media,
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.
Music by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giuseppe Adami, after A. M. Willner and Heinz Reichert
THE CAST (in order of vocal appearance)
Yvette soprano, MONICA YUNUS
Bianca soprano, JANINAH BURNETT
Prunier tenor, MARIUS BRENCIU
Magda soprano, KRISTINE OPOLAIS
Lisette soprano, ANNA CHRISTY
Suzy mezzo, MARGARET THOMPSON
Rambaldo baritone, DWAYNE CROFT
Gobin tenor, KEITH JAMESON
Périchaud baritone, EDWARD PARKS
Crébillon bass-bar., EVAN HUGHES
Ruggero tenor, GIUSEPPE FILIANOTI
Adolf tenor, DANIEL CLARK SMITH
Georgette soprano, STEPHANIE CHIGAS
Gabriele soprano, SARA STEWART
Lolette mezzo, CHRISTINA THOMSON
Rabonnier bass, JASON HENDRIX
A Singer soprano, LEI XU
Butler bass, ROGER ANDREWS
Conducted by ION MARIN
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Production: Nicolas Joël
Staged by: Stephen Barlow
Set designer: Ezio Frigerio
Costume designer: Franca Squarciapino
Lighting designer: Duane Schuler
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Musical preparation: Dennis Giauque,
Steven Eldredge, Gareth Morrell,
Assistant stage directors: Peter McClintock,
Stage band conductor: Jeffrey Goldberg
Piano solo: Steven Eldredge
Prompter: Carol Isaac
Italian coach: Hemdi Kfir
|Production a gift of The Sybil B. Harrington
La Rondine is a coproduction of
Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse, and
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
|THE SCENES || || Timings (ET)|
| ||(Paris and the Riviera|
in the 1920s)
|ACT I||Magda's house in Paris,|
|ACT II||The Bullier dance hall,|
later that evening
|ACT III||A hotel on the Riviera|
several months later
Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel,
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,
For more information on the broadcasts,
please visit www.operainfo.org.
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This performance is also being broadcast
live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on
SiriusXM channel 74.
ACT I. Near the Tuileries in Paris, Rambaldo and his mistress, Magda, are entertaining theatrical and literary friends at her salon. Prunier, a poet (and the lover of Magda's maid, Lisette), declares that romantic love is back in fashion, a veritable epidemic. He has written a ballad about a girl named Doretta, who discovers love in a student's ardent kiss; he begins the song, intriguing the romantic-minded Magda, who sits at the piano and finishes it. Rambaldo presents her with a pearl necklace, which she accepts without changing her opinion that true love is unrelated to wealth. As the guests wander toward another room, Lisette tells Rambaldo that a young man has been waiting outside to see him on business. As Rambaldo excuses himself, Magda recalls to her friends the days of her own youth, when romance still seemed fresh and she fled, frightened, from her first flirtation. Prunier offers to read Magda's palm as Rambaldo greets Ruggero, son of a childhood friend. Prunier predicts that Magda may take off in pursuit of her romantic dream, but his reading is disrupted by Rambaldo's call for the group's advice: young Ruggero is new to Paris and wants to know where to spend the evening. Various nightclubs are suggested, the most popular being Bullier, endorsed by Lisette. He leaves to go there, and the other guests also bid Magda adieu, leaving her alone with Lisette, who says it is her evening off. As Magda goes to her room, thinking nostalgically about Bullier, Prunier comes to escort Lisette, declaring his love while she responds in a bantering tone. As they depart, Magda comes out of her room dressed as a shop girl, confident no one will recognize her.
Magda (Gheorghiu) and Ruggero (Alagna) at the Bullier dance hall
© Beth Bergman 2013
ACT II. At Bullier, students and grisettes are joking as flower vendors and streetwalkers pass. Several of the girls teasingly approach the solitary Ruggero, who waves them off. Students offer to escort the arriving Magda; to avoid them, she says she already has a date and joins the seated Ruggero. She is about to excuse herself, but he is taken with her and asks her to stay and dance. Meanwhile, Prunier and Lisette arrive, sparring archly; they dance, while Magda and Ruggero return to their table, she introducing herself as "Paulette" and not wanting to give more details, he responding to her mystery with growing infatuation. Prunier, recognizing Ruggero, sits down with him as Lisette marvels at the resemblance between "Paulette" and Magda. When Rambaldo arrives, Prunier drops the pretense of not recognizing Magda and takes her aside, sending Ruggero out with Lisette. Rambaldo goes to Magda through the crowd and asks her to abandon this "escapade." Replying that she has found true love, she says she will stay, whereupon Rambaldo steps out gracefully, hoping she will not regret it. When Ruggero returns, she leaves on his arm, fearful for the fragility of her happiness.
ACT III. On the terrace of a villa on the Riviera on a spring afternoon, Magda and Ruggero are enjoying an idyllic life, which cannot go on much longer unless he is able to get money from his family. When Magda reacts with surprise to his having written asking his parents' permission to marry, he urges her to think how happy they will be. Prunier and Lisette discover the place. They quarrel as Magda appears from the villa, surprised to meet them, telling Lisette she would be glad to have her back. Prunier cannot imagine Magda continuing this fantasy life and intimates that Rambaldo would have her back. He leaves as Ruggero comes out with a letter from his mother, giving her blessing to the marriage - if the girl is virtuous. Magda has to confess she has been a kept woman: she can be his mistress but not his wife. Though he insists he loves her anyway, she says she cannot ruin things for him. Begging him to remember her, she turns sadly away from the heartbroken young man to return to her old life.
Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna as
Magda and Ruggero at the Met
© Beth Bergman 2013
La Rondine was conceived as a commission from Vienna's Carltheater, but its premiere was delayed — and the location of that premiere changed — by World War I. La Rondine had its first performance on March 27, 1917, in neutral Monte Carlo, with Gilda dalla Rizza, a favorite soprano of Puccini's, cast as the first Magda. Tito Schipa created Ruggero.
The Metropolitan Opera presented the U. S. premiere of La Rondine on March 10, 1928, with Vincenzo Bellezza pacing a cast headed by Beniamino Gigli and Lucrezia Bori. Bori, an elegant Spanish soprano whose gift for pathos made her one of the Met's most valuable stars, counted the role of Magda as her exclusive property during La Rondine's three-season stint in the company's repertory. In 1936, when Bori ended her twenty-season run as a Met prima donna, Puccini's opera was retired with her. La Rondine returned to the Met on December 31, 2008, when Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna sang Magda and Ruggero in an Art Deco-style production devised by Nicolas Joël.
WHAT TO READ AND HEAR
Michael Kaye's The Unknown Puccini (Oxford) offers an interesting perspective on La Rondine. Mary Jane Phillips-Matz's Puccini: A Biography (Northeastern) remains a highly useful study of the composer, as does Julian Budden's Puccini: His Life and Works (Oxford).
The best of the Rondine performances on CD is the 1996 EMI set, conducted by Antonio Pappano with Angela Gheorghiu and Robert Alagna ideally cast and in glorious voice as Magda and Ruggero. Gheorghiu and Alagna also star in the Rondine DVD of choice, a 2009 HD transmission from the Met of Nicolas Joël's production, conducted by Marco Armiliato (EMI).
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