What to Expect from La Rondine
This elegant romance is the least-known work of the mature Giacomo Puccini. The story concerns a kept woman who defies convention to chase a dream of romantic love with an earnest, if naïve, young man. She is the swallow, or “rondine,” of the title, a bird who flies toward the sun. The central relationship unfolds in colorful locales in Paris and the south of France, all evoked with superb musical details.Puccini was originally approached for this project by Viennese producers who wanted an operetta.
This idea was quickly abandoned, but the original conception had an effect on the finished product, with its abundance of waltzes, romantic vision of Paris, and lightness of tone. History worked against La Rondine’s success, however: Italy and Austria became enemies during World War I, precluding a Vienna premiere, and the opera quietly opened in neutral Monte Carlo, never finding a permanent place in the repertoire. That loss is scandalous, since La Rondine, judged on its own merits rather than compared to other operas with similar themes, is a fascinating work. With the dynamic, real-life couple Romanian Angela Gheorghiu and Frenchborn tenor Roberto Alagna performing the roles of Magda and Ruggero, it blooms into its rightful place in the glorious Puccini canon.
Two full-length classroom activities, designed to support your ongoing curriculum.
Three "Musical Highlights" designed to focus briefly on bits of music from La Rondine to cultivate familiarity with the work.
Performance activities for students to enjoy during the Metropolitan Opera HD transmission.
A post-transmission activity, integrating the Live in HD experience into students' wider views of the performing arts.
La Rondine at the Met
La Rondine’s unconventional drama is in fact one of its great strengths. It may well be Puccini’s most modern opera. This modernity infuses director Nicolas Joël’s production. The locations remain as Puccini specified, but the time has been changed from the mid-19th century to the 1920s. The sets, by veteran designer Ezio Frigerio, and costumes, by famed designer Franca Squarciapino, emphasize the art-deco refinement of the Parisian scenes and the casual elegance of the finale. The lighting, so important in this highly atmospheric opera, is by the acclaimed designer Duane Schuler.
In one sense, La Rondine is more accessible to adolescents than many better known works. The opera explores the meaning of love and the relationship of feelings to behavior—two unremitting teenage concerns, though rarely discussed in the classroom. This guide is designed to help your students consider the personal issues raised by La Rondine, as well as this opera’s place as a work of the early modern era, a time of all-out war, radical movements in art, and technological innovation that would change life on Earth forever. By provoking discussion and providing historical context, the guide seeks to prompt students’ curiosity about La Rondine and this new Metropolitan Opera production.
The synopsis can be found here.