Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Puccini - La Rondine / Bellezza Carteri Rovero Gismondo|
Actors: Rosanna Carteri, Giuseppe Gismondo, Giuseppe Valdengo, Ornella Rovero, Vincenzo Bellezza
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
HCD 4026 Rosanna Carteri, Giuseppe Valdengo, Giuseppe Gismondo, Ornella Rovero. Orchestra & Chorus of the Theater of San Carlo Naples, Vincenzo Bellezza conductor. Subtitles in English, Italian, French, Spanish, Japanese. ... more »
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly... or The Swallow
S. Bernard | Mesa, AZ | 05/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am a huge fan of this opera. I was lucky enough to be introduced to it by a first rate cast from NYCO back in 1985 with a fantastic conductor (Alessandro Siciliani) and fell in love with it immediately (being a singer myself, I even indulged my young self by buying the $75 score!)
A bit of an overview if you don't know much about this opera:
It is the story of a Parisian courtesan (Magda) who tries to give true love a 2nd chance (I know this sounds a bit like Traviata but I think this story is a bit more contemporary) and falls in love with a young student (Ruggero) only to come to the decision herself that even though she can be his lover, she cannot be the wife and mother that he and his family expect. Even though no one dies (as happens so often in opera) it is nonetheless a very touching story that has a tragedy of everyday life we can all relate to: the choices we make, dictate the life we lead.
I have heard many recordings (Gheorghiu, Moffo, TeKanawa and the above mentioned telecast with Elizabeth Knighton) and find that usually the weakest link is the conductor. Not so in this video. The conducting is ably handled by Vincenzo Belleza. His tempos allow the lead, Rosanna Carteri to make something special of her Magda - and ultimately this opera doesn't work if you don't sympathize with her character. Magda's character is easy to relate to because the underlying thing is that she is seeking happiness and love- just like the rest of us.
THE GOOD: I found out about Rosanna Carteri from another Hardy Classic DVD of Otello with Mario del Monaco. While her singing in the Otello was lovely and her visage equally enchanting- in this production of La Rondine you can see what a fine singing actress she is. She completely carries this production vocally & dramatically. From her whimsical "Fanciulla, è sbociatto l'amore!" in the first act to her heartbreaking letter scene in the 3rd act "Figliuolo, tu mi dici" she is completely in character. I do not regret my purchase of this because she is the best Magda I've seen since Knighton's NYCO production. Most of the supporting cast is quite good too. The Lisette/Prunier duo makes for some fun moments vocally and both sing quite well. The concertate in Act II is sung very well and is a beautiful moment in time in the opera!
THE BAD: Well, nothing's perfect, right? Giuseppe Gismondo is the Ruggero here and he is disappointing. His voice seems too small for the Teatro di San Carlo- and his acting is almost non-existent (making her acting seem all the more wonderful but leaving her working in a comparative vacuum.) As the opera goes on, he does seem to warm up a bit- in fact, by the end his singing becomes a bit more impassioned (maybe he's just partial to the tragedy of the moment) but his acting is still almost completely vacant. Which is too bad because in the end, his voice is pleasing (although his mezza di voce is weak & unsupported sounding.)
THE UGLY: The costumes & especially the wigs are AWFUL! If I didn't know better, I'd say this was a very cheap production. Another strange note- there is no applause after the arias only at the end of each act. It appears they filmed this in the theater in front of a live audience so I'm not sure if they are stingy with their applause in San Carlo or if they told audience not to applaud since they were filming. They could've also done a little better with the camera work. At the end of ACT II when Magda is confessing to Ruggero that she's afraid because she is too happy- the camera wanders around filming people outside of the cafe (that's only one example, there are a few more.)
All that said, this historic recording (and one of the few DVDs of La Rondine available) is very worthwhile, imho. I believe this came from a kinescope, so the picture isn't always clear, but then this was done in 1958 too. I enjoyed it completely & know I will take it out & watch it again, to re-live the heartache again with Magda & Ruggero.
John Kell | Victoria, BC, Canada | 07/14/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I love this opera, and this DVD is charming, if somewhat dated. But it was filmed, live, over 50 years ago, and so it's much like other films from that era. The recorded-live bloopers (bicycle tips over, wine glass crashes to the floor) only add to the charm. And the costumes are perfect (especially the swallow hat)."