La Rondine Takes Flight
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
06/07/2008 - and June 12, 14, 19, 22, 25, 28
Giacomo Puccini: La Rondine
Patricia Racette (Magda), Ruggero (Marcus Haddock), Amanda Squitieri (Lisette), Greg Fedderly (Prunier), David Pittsinger (Rambaldo), Karen Vuong (Yvette), Silvia Vasquez (Bianca), Angel Blue (Suzy), Dale Travis (Périchaud), Paul Floyd (Gobin), Levi Hernandez (Crébillon), Angel Blue (A Singer), Lisa Crave (A Girl), Sara Campbell (Another Girl), John Kimberling (A Young Man), Renee Sousa (Lolette), Rebecca Tomlinson (Georgette), Nicole Fernandes (Gabriella), Stephanie Landwehr and John Todd (Solo Dancers)
Grant Gershon (Associate Conductor/Chorus Master), Stuart Canin (Los Angeles Opera Concert Master), Keri-Lynn Wilson (Conductor)
Marta Domingo (Director), Michael Scott (Designer), Mary Louise Geiger (Lighting Designer), Kitty McNamee (Choreographer)
(© Robert Millard/Los Angeles Opera)
Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Italian composer Giacomo Puccini Los Angeles Opera finishes its 2007-2008 season with the lesser known lyrical opera, La Rondine. Positioned as one of Puccini’s mature works La Rondine was completed five years after the successful opening of La Fanciulla del West (1910) at The Metropolitan Opera. Due to the outbreak of World War I in 1914 La Rondine did not appear on stage until 1917 amidst struggles to secure rights for its premiere in Monte Carlo.
Despite drawing initial positive views at the Palais Garnier, La Rondine began rapid decline of public approval for the next three years inside and outside the European continent, categorizing the opera as a sort of “orphan” amongst Puccini’s later works. Recently, however, directors and conductors have come to rediscover this treasured production in terms of its lyrical beauty and rich orchestration.
Once again, Los Angeles Opera welcomes internationally acclaimed soprano Patricia Racette in the leading role of Magda whose commanding voice begins and ends with distinct confidence despite occasional upper register strains. Long time Los Angeles Opera artist Marcus Haddock, singing the role of Ruggero, succeeds with lyrical heft and starchiness, yet has greater opportunity for his character development thanks to Marta Domingo’s foresightedness in archival research in Milan, Italy that includes incorporation of a rarely heard tenor aria in Act I. Overshadowing the romantic pair is David Pittsinger’s masculine baritone voice that portrays Rambaldo perfectly as Magda’s key to financial freedom.
The curtain opens with a sumptuous set inside a Parisian salon during the French Second Empire. Magda surrounds herself with a retinue of guests, all of whom have a command for tasteful performance and vocal flair. Opposite Racette is Amanda Squitieri’s well-suited role as Lisette, Magda’s witty and feisty maid, who pairs off with poet Prunier sung by Greg Fedderly that never goes overboard. Michael Scott’s talents spare no detail, thus allowing audiences to be absorbed in the action in a credible way while color and fabric gracing the cast’s costumes are befitting to concoct the perfect match to Puccini’s ravishing score.
Mary Louise Geiger handles lighting techniques deftly to create effective moments and emotions that resonate wonderfully with talents of the Los Angeles Opera’s orchestra under the skillful leadership of Keri-Lynn Wilson in her company debut. Most poignant is Act II’s scene at Bullier’s where one spotlight focuses on Magda and Ruggero during their romantic duet, “Pèrche mai cercate” while a second shines on dancers Stephanie Landwehr and John Todd to translate words into dance. This is highly effective and touchingly beautiful. The crowning moment follows with the opera’s famed quartet and choral revelry.
La Rondine is the second in a series of three consecutive Puccini operas (the third and final opera will open next year’s 2008-2009 season with the much anticipated Il Trittico). La Rondine has shades of La Fanciulla del West, yet it has a greater melodious score. For a couple of hours this rarely performed gem will sweep you off your feet with a few stomps on the ground.