Wednesday, April 15, 2020
The daily rerun from the Metropolitan Opera is Puccini's La Rondine with Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna. Now I know that the maid Lisette is played by Lisette Oropesa who is far more famous today. It is lovely to see her.
Wonderful things in Act I: Angela's lightness and enthusiasm, Roberto's youthfulness, the gorgeous art nouveau set, the aria, Lisette's charm. Not so wonderful is the sharp decline in the voice of Sam Ramey from earlier years. At his peak I loved him madly, but here not so much. Prunier the poet says he wants Salome or Berenice, larger than life women. Magda is a kept woman, but sneaks out of the house looking for love.
In Act II Magda has gone to a place with small round tables and bentwood chairs where there is dancing. She happens on Ruggero whom she did not notice in Act I. Magda and Ruggero dance. Then couples come out and do what I would call Apache dancing where the men throw the women around. Roberto is rather incredibly adorable. I realize that I can't remember the ending.
Lisette and Prunier also come to entertain themselves in this student hangout. Both Magda and Prunier think they will not see anyone they know, and when they do see someone they know they pretend not to know them. Lisette is not sophisticated. Magda asks Prunier, "Is she Salome or Berenice?" No longer pretending. Love music is followed by the arrival of Rambaldo, the man who is keeping her. She tells him she's leaving him for true love. He is rather nice about it. "I hope you don't regret it."
In Act III Magda is still with Ruggero, this time in another gorgeous art nouveau set. They are still in love. The ending is not happy.
This is not like any other Puccini opera. I suppose it is nearest to Fanciulla in plot, but the music here is much sweeter. It started its life as an operetta and was later turned into an opera. So this is more like Lehar than Puccini. It never quite feels like Puccini, but one might still love it, especially this one.