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Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna star in the 2009 Metropolitan Opera production of Puccini’s La Rondine (The Swallow). This new production, directed by Nicholas Joël, was the company’s first staging in 70 years.
This elegant romance is the least-known work of the mature Giacomo Puccini. The story concerns a kept woman who defies convention to chase a dream of romantic love with an earnest, if naïve, young man. This Met Opera production features the dynamic soprano Angela Gheorghiu and Frenchborn tenor Roberto Alagna performing the roles of Magda and Ruggero, it blooms into its rightful place in the glorious Puccini canon.
La Rondine (The Swallow) was commissioned by Vienna’s Carltheater in 1913. Due to the impending outbreak of World War I, premiered in 1917, at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo with Gilda Dalla Rizza and Tito Schipa. Set in a Parisian salon, it is the story of Magda, the glamorous mistress of wealthy banker Rambaldo. Her yearning for romantic love compels her into the arms of the ardent and adoring young Ruggero.
The New York Times hailed the Art-Deco set production as “as sophisticated, charming and poignant”. This DVD features the 10th January, 2009 performance of the opera, which was aired globally in HD as well as two bonus interview featurettes: the first with Gheorghiu and Alagna; the second with Lisette Oropesa and Marius Brenciu, who sing the roles Lisette and Prunier respectively.
“Ms. Gheorghiu, as Magda, sings with gleaming sound and wonderfully dusky colorings…The conductor, Marco Armiliato, in what may be his best work to date at the Met, draws a nuanced and supple performance from the orchestra. I thought I knew this score quite well, but have never been so struck by the intricacies of the music”. The New York Times
“Mr Alagna supplied plenty of vocal and physical glamour and equal amounts of intelligent phrasing and text-reading; his boyish Ruggero was entirely sympathetic and very moving”. Classics Today
“I have never heard Alagna sing better, and Gheorghiu is at her sumptuous best. There are comparably beautiful performances by the younger couple, Marius Brenciu and Lisette Oropesa” New York Daily News
Interview with Angela Gheorghiu & Roberto Alagna (3’35)
Interview with Lisette Oropesa & Marius Brenciu (4’21)
“at the centre is Angela Gheorghiu in richest, creamiest voice. At her side for most of the time is Roberto Alagna, singing with tone that is resonant if not refulgent...Marco Armiliato conducts with enthusiasm, and the glimpses of scenery-changing reveal a hinter-realm of awesome complexity under unfazed control.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010
“Armiliato's conducting...captures the right warmth, and the former Dream Team still look superb...The lyrical young Ruggero still suits Alagna...Ramey's now leathery tone embodies Ramblado's elderly urbanity, and the Met's lesser roles are typically strong. Overall, then, this is [a] fine performance that undoubtedly confirms Rondine's renewed status.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 *****
“ Joël's production...has updated the opera to the 1920s without harming the action or sensibility of the work...Armiliato leads a reading that precisely catches the bittersweet quality of the score without falling into sentimentality; indeed he almost sells it as something other than 'the day off of a genius'.” International Record Review, December 2010
“the Metropolitan Opera sets are wonderfully elegant...Consistently, Gheorghiu makes you share the courtesan's wild dream of finding her young ardent lover...Alagna winningly characterizes in his freshest voice” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition
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Ainhoa Arteta (Magda), Marcus Haddock (Ruggero), Lisette (Inva Mula), Richard Troxell (Prunier), William Parcher (Rambaldo), Tony R Dillon (Périchaud), Chris Owens (Crébillon), Steven Gathman (Gobin), Angela Turner Wilson (Yvette), Kathleen Segar (Bianca), Edri Means-Weekly (Suzy), Elizabeth Whitten (Georgette) & Marta Kirillof (Gabriella)
Washington National Opera Orchestra and Chorus, Emmanuel Villaume (conductor) & Marta Domingo (stage director)
Director for TV - Brian Large
Marta Domingo’s famous production of this increasingly popular ‘operetta’; the only version of this particular ending to the piece available on DVD.
A valuable addition to Decca’s catalogue of Puccini DVDs. The piece is barely represented on DVD and Marta’s Domingo’s famous production is one of several recently which have started to make this work more a part of the standard operatic repertoire.
The operetta is famous for the beautiful aria ‘Doretta’s Dream’, used in the Merchant Ivory film of a Room with a View. However, the piece is in fact full of Puccini’s luscious melodies, albeit written in a lighter manner than usual.
Marta Domingo’s production was celebrated yet controversial for adapting the ending to reflect the more tragic outcome of the story; this is one of three endings Puccini wrote for the opera and Decca’s DVD will be the only available release of this version.
Excellent cast led by the beautiful Spanish soprano Ainhoa Arteta. American Marcus Haddock plays her suitor and the soprano Inva Mula is also notable in the role of Lisette.
EXTRAS: PBS introduction to the opera
“In her operetta-like staging, director Marta Domingo makes a feature of one of Puccini's revised endings. A high-quality cast brings persuasive qualities.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2009
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Sung in Italian
Svetla Vassileva, Maya Dashuk, Fabio Sartori, Emanuele Giannino & Marzio Giossi
Orchestra and Chorus of the Puccini Festival, Alberto Veronesi
Filmed at the 53rd Puccini Festival, Torre del Lago, Italy, 8, 10 & 16 August 2007
Although one of his most consistently lyrical operas, La rondine (The Swallow) remains one of Puccini’s least known. Dissatisfied with the result of his work, Puccini wrote three versions, with two different endings, and continued to make further revisions up to his death in 1924.
This innovative 2007 production is in effect a fourth version, which combines Acts I and II of the first version (1917), with Lorenzo Ferrero’s 1994 orchestration of parts of the Finale of Act III of the incomplete third version (1921), some of which had survived only in piano score, as well as Ruggero’s Act I romanza, ‘Parigi è la città dei desideri’, from the second version (1920). This is a world premiere recording of this little known ‘fourth version’.
With a sparkling score reminiscent of Franz Lehár and Richard Strauss, La rondine, set in mid-19th century Paris, tells the story of Magda de Civry, a young courtesan who falls in love one evening with Ruggero Lastouc, the handsome son of a childhood friend of her protector, Rambaldo Fernandez. Although Magda believes that her compromised social position prevents their marrying, in Puccini’s third version it is Ruggero who leaves Magda when he discovers that she is the mistress of Rambaldo.
“the story is well characterised and well sung by the four principals” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition **
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Fiorenza Cedolins (Magda), Fernando Portari (Ruggero), Sandra Pastrana (Lisette), Emanuele Giannino (Prunier), Stefano Antonucci (Ramblado)
Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro La Fenice, Carlo Rizzi (conductor), Graham Vick (director), Peter J. Davison (set design) & Sue Willmington (costumes)
Live from the Teatro La Fenice, Venice 2008. This year’s schedule at La Fenice includes a special treat for opera-goers: a production of Puccini’s seldom-performed opera: “La Rondine” (The Swallow). And now this rarity can also be rediscovered on DVD. The score of the operetta-like three-act “lyrical comedy”, which tells the story of the love between Magda and Ruggero, must be one of Puccini’s most subtle creations. The light, bubbling music reveals levels of artistry and complexity that few composers have ever matched.
Milan-born conductor Carlo Rizzi has worked with the world’s leading orchestras since 1982 – from Los Angeles and Chicago to Zurich, Milan and Salzburg, where he conducted a much-acclaimed production of “La Traviata” with Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón in 2005.
Graham Vick, a highly experienced opera director, has directed who also is something of a “Britpop” enthusiast, has directed productions at the New York Met, Vienna State Opera, Bavarian State Opera and the Royal Opera House, London. In Glyndebourne, where he was director of productions from 1994 to 2000, he was responsible, amongst other things, for staging “Così fan tutte”, “Don Giovanni” and “Pélleas et Mélisande”.
Running Time: 106 min
Picture Format: 16:9
Sound Format: PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Menu Languages NTSC: D, F, GB, I, SP
Subtitle Languages NTSC: D, F, GB, I, SP
“…there's much to admire in Vick's carefully planned production, especially in a lively Act II dance-hall scene and in the sophisticated badinage of ACT I, set in Magda's salon. Musically, Carlo Rizzi is in his element…” BBC Music Magazine, January 2009 ***
“The production in Venice is very colourful, especially the spectacular scene at Bulliers...Rizzi secures very polished orchestral playing and finds all the wistful delicacy in Puccini's lovely score.” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ***
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Rosanna Carteri (Magda), Giuseppe Valdengo (Rambaldo), Gino Sinimberghi (Prunier), Giuseppe Gismondo (Ruggero), Ornella Rovero (Lisette)
Orchestra & Chorus of the Teatro di San Carlo Napoli, Vincenzo Bellezza
Subtitles: English, French, Italian, Japanese, Spanish
Run Time: 107 minutes
Recorded in 1958
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