Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Puccini La Rondine|
Actors: Fiorenza Cedolins, Fernando Portari, Sandra Pastrana, Carlo Rizzi, Emanuele Giannino
Director: Graham Vick
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts
Beautifully staged La Rondine
John F. Cahill | 08/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this production from La Fenice at the Charles Theater in Baltimore. It was not a live broadcast, but part of a series of opera productions from La Scala and this one from La Fenice broadcast to movie theaters in the US.
While the setting for the story has been updated, the staging was not at all bizarre (as some directors have done to beautiful operas and destroyed the production in so doing). The singing is very good from singers that are not well known in this country - but so what! There are many European singers who never appear in the US and they are outstanding artists.
A word about the Marta Domingo production. I saw it at the Washington Opera and, while it is a beautifully staged production, the ending is very strange, not what Puccini intended. Marta Domingo has the heroine commit suicide by walking into the sea at the end of the opera. In fact, she decides that she can't marry her young lover and decides to return to the elderly Rambaldo, the wealthy man with whom she was having a long time affair.
Puccini would not have approved of this ending to his opera.
Buy the DVD and enjoy the music and you will come to like the production as well.
John Cahill, music teacher"
An Underwhelming Rondine
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 09/02/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This production of Puccini's La Rondine comes from the Fenice in Venice. The director, Graham Vick, made the decision to move the story to the 1950s, with women dressed in what look like Balenciaga knock-offs. The updating in itself doesn't do much harm to the story except for the fact that the plot itself -- a woman who can't marry her lover because her past will bring disgrace to his family -- doesn't translate particularly well to 1950s mores, particularly in Paris where the opera is set. That alone, however, would not create that much of a problem if it weren't for the musical and theatrical values of the production. The singers are average at best. The only reasonable well-known singer is Fiorenza Cedolins as Magda, the female lead. She is in poor voice in the first act -- the act in which her big aria occurs, the well-beloved 'Che il bel sogno di Doretta', the so-called 'Doretta's Dream'. The voice improves as we go along in this video of a live production, but Cedolins' acting is not at all convincing. Even worse is her lumpy tenor, Fernando Portari, whose voice is OK but whose acting is awkward at best. The couple are not helped by Vick's insistence that they do things like lie full-length on the stage floor while singing, making what are supposed to be coltish or erotic movements but which in their portrayals simply look embarrassing. Their love scenes, particularly in the last act which occurs at the seaside, are not only not convincing, they are cringe-making. The second couple -- Sandra Pastrana as Magda's maid Lisette and Emanuele Giannino as the poet Prunier -- are not really any better. Lisette is supposed to be saucy; she comes across, rather, as stiff; her singing is adequate, but just. Giannino is a better actor but his voice is marginal for the part. Indeed the best singer/actor in the cast is Stefano Antonucci as Rambaldo, whose mistress Magda is; his part, however, is relatively short. There is some interest in the second act, which occurs in a cabaret, Chez Bullier, because there is some enjoyable dancing by the crowd done by a Venetian group called 'Acrobatic Swing Dance', as choreographed by Ron Howell; one wished they were onstage longer. The Fenice orchestra, under Carlo Rizzi, is fine and indeed the best part of the show.
Let's face it, La Rondine is not Puccini's strongest score, nor does it have the most believable plot, and it is not done any favors by this production, sad to say.
H. LOWENSTEIN | palm beach gardens, florida USA | 09/11/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"SIMPLY PUT THE NYC OPERA PRODUCTION OF "LA RONDINE" WAS WONDERFUL. IT IS A SHAME THERE IS NO DVD OF THE ORIGINAL THAT AIRED SOME TIME AGO WITH ELIZABETH KNIGHTEN. BEVERLEY SILLS CONSIDERED THIS ONE OF HER FAVORITES. THE SECOND ACT WAS LITERALLY, A SHOW STOPPER. ACT THREE WAS AS OPERATIC AS CAN BE.
I ALSO THINK MARTHA DOMINGO'S ENDING DETRACTS FROM THE NATURAL CONCEPT."
I've heard worse, but not on purpose.
Good Stuff | 11/01/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Puccini envisioned La Rondine as his version of a Viennese operetta. While that may have been his desire, what he achieved is much more. For lack of a better description, I call La Rondine "verismo light". It takes all the elements of a verismo opera and peels away layer after layer until it gets to the core of the story, a simple one of a love that cannot be, the staple of 99.9% of every opera ever written!
Puccini actually had something of a hard time with his little swallow. I think he found that writing quietly and simply can be every bit as challenging as something like his stupendous finale to Act II of Tosca.
This production, as has already been noted, has been updated. Why, I have no idea. And while I have the chance, I would just like to say to all opera directors everywhere: STOP IT! It isn't necessary, or even desirable. This simple story gains nothing from being updated to circa 1950.
That said, it is a beautiful production. Nice sets. The women wear lovely dresses.
At the heart of La Rondine is what is at the heart of every Puccini opera: a soprano. All Puccini's operas require very good singers. Puccini demands a lot of his singers, but the rewards are great as well. And so that brings us to the problem with this production. We simply do not have world class singers here. Magda is sung by Fiorenza Cedolins. I must admit to not being familiar with Mme Cedolins. Checking her discography, it appears she takes on most of the big Italian spinto roles: Aida, Tosca, Norma, you get the picture. And she has garnered some respectable reviews for her efforts. Magda, I fear, will not go down as one of her successes. Puccini can be an exacting task master. He requires Magda to come out on stage and, not more than ten minutes into the opera, sing one of the most famous and beautiful arias ever written, "Chi il bel sogno di Doretta". You know which one that is. It's the one Leontyne Price sang on her blue album 50 years ago, that everyone has been trying to match ever since.
Cedolins starts out on pretty shaky ground. The middle of her voice sounds both garbled and muffled at the same time. Oddly, as she approaches the inevitable high C, and I am clutching the arm of my chair with all the hope of someone assigned to one of the lower decks on the Titanic, she pops out several high notes, including that C, that stands up there with the best of them. Bright, full, fearless. And damned impressive. As the opera goes on, she warms somewhat and turns in a respectable, if hardly world class, performance. But La Rondine is all about Magda, and Magda is all about that first aria. It sets the evening. If it is not up to par, the performance never recovers, and such is the case here. A couple of times during the evening, Cedolins hits an especially good note or two, and she seems understandably reluctant to let it go. Fortunately, conductor Carlo Rizzi does an admirable job second guessing some of the, shall we say, eccentricities his singers take with Puccini's music. Rizzi earns his keep here.
The rest of the cast is superfluous. They are provincial singers, the kind that opera houses all over the world depend on, God bless them. But they are not what we have come to expect on recordings.
Oh, and yes, the re-staged ending is ridiculous, uncalled for, and a complete waste of time.
Oh, well. Better luck next time."