Music Monday: La Rondine

Patricia Racette as Magda in La Rondine (2008); Photo: Robert Millard

Patricia Racette as Magda in La Rondine (2008); Photo: Robert Millard

We’re all about Puccini these days with Madame Butterfly opening next month and La Boheme in May. Those two are arguably his most celebrated, but have you experienced the intriguing show that is La Rondine? Starkly different from the dramatic operas with which Puccini made his mark on the musical world, La Rondine is a comic opera that strives to bridge the gap between Puccini’s vision of opera and more lighthearted operetta (a difficult thing to do during the grim World War I time period in which it premiered). Although it differs from standard Puccini repertoire, it’s still a must listen before diving in to our very Puccini spring.

Marta Domingo’s production of La Rondine was last performed at LA Opera in 2008, starring Patricia Racette (who returns next season in Salome). The opera is set during in 19th-century Paris. Magda (Racette), the glamorous mistress of a wealthy banker, is the titular rondine (“swallow”), a kept woman ready to flit from one rich man’s nest to another. She decides on a whim to spend an evening out disguised as a working class girl. She meets Ruggero, who is enchanted by the innocent girl she pretends to be. When Ruggero proposes marriage, the memory of her sullied past threatens to tear Magda from the man she loves.

The most famous aria from La Rondine is Magda’s Act I, “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta” or “Doretta’s Beautiful Dream.” In the aria, Magda finishes a friend’s story about a lovely woman named Doretta, who rejects the advances of a king, and then falls in love with a student. She wonders if truly romantic love is really possible.

Listen to the aria below, featured in the classic Helena Bonham Carter film, A Room with A View.

Can’t get enough Puccini? Make sure to snag your tickets to our two Puccini operas this spring, Madame Butterfly and La Boheme. For more information about our current and upcoming seasons, visit our website.

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