Hot on the heals of an opera that's seen its star rise in the past few years (Maria Stuarda) comes another opera that's been seeing a lot more play lately.
La Rondine is Puccini's 10th most performed opera (of 12), but that still places it at number 105 on the list. It's always struggled to find its place onstage. It was initially conceived as a kind of operetta, complete with Italian spoken narration. But Puccini eventually abandoned this idea in favour of the opera model. And it's been panned for its borrowing of both thematic and musical ideas from previous Puccini models. It was written during in the First World War so perhaps it also seemed out of step with its time.
Despite all the negative attention, La Rondine has become more popular in recent times. This Met production is the second to reach the main stage after a gap of some 70 years. And by all accounts it's simply superb. The first outing starred the operatic power couple (since de-chained) Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna. Here's the finale from Act 3.
La Rondine's back with an all new cast. In the lead role of Magda this time is Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais. Different from the sizzling Gheorghiu but just as interesting and entertaining. She's only 33 years old but she certainly is making a splash in New York. Here's a YouTube highlight I found to give you a taste of what's to come.
You'll find an interview with this rising soprano on the Met's website as well as a synopsis.
Kristine Opolais, Magda
Anna Christy, Lisette
Giuseppe Filianoti, Ruggero
Marius Brenciu, Prunier
Dwayne Croft, Rambaldo
Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Ion Marin, conductor
By the way, La Rondine ends without a drop of spilled blood (not happy, but not quite tragic either). If you prefer your opera bloody and dramatic, well here's your ending!
A more detailed La Rondine synopsis from the Stanford opera website
Complete recording of the even rarer Puccini opera Edgar
Full scores (and vocal scores) for La Rondine at IMSLP
on Jan 24, 2013