Opera’s golden couple, Angela Gheorghiu and husband Roberto Alagna, offer viewers a rare chance to experience Giacomo Puccini’s attempt to meld Italianate opera with the bittersweet Viennese operetta formula Saturday, April 25 at noon (ET) on Great Performances at the Met on PBS HD (check local listings). Last seen at the Met in 1936, La Rondine (The Swallow) is the tale of an unhappy kept woman who opts for one last fling with an idealistic young man, then returns – like the swallow – to her rich benefactor, sadder and more worldly wiser.
Soprano Gheorghiu and tenor Alagna (“singing with ravishing, tender voices and onstage intimacy,” wrote AP) are the lovers Magda and Ruggero, with tenor Marius Brenciu as Magda’s friend Prunier and veteran Met bass Samuel Ramey as her keeper, the banker Rambaldo. Marco Armiliato conducts.
The glittering new Art Deco production is by Nicolas Joël, with sets by Ezio Frigerio, costumes by Franca Squarciapino and lighting by Duane Schuler. “A beguiling production,” raved The New York Times, “sophisticated, charming and poignant.”
Great Performances at the Met: La Rondine, the seventh of 11 productions airing this season, is sung in Italian with English surtitles; Giuseppe Adami wrote the libretto, after A.M. Willner and Heinz Reichert. The production was transmitted onstage as part of The Met: Live in HD January 10, 2009, and recorded for this telecast. Brian Large directs, with series favorite Renée Fleming as host. Jay Saks is audio producer.
The world’s most popular (and arguably slowest) opera composer, Giacomo Puccini oversaw La Rondine’s premiere in Monte Carlo in 1917. It followed La Fanciulla del West (Girl of the Golden West)) by seven years and preceded Il Trittico by one.
Great Performances is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers, and PBS. Corporate support for Great Performances at the Met is provided by Toll Brothers. Special funding for this telecast is provided by the Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund.
Visit Great Performances Online at pbs.org/gperf for additional information on this and other Great Performances programs.
For the Met, Mia Bongiovanni and Elena Park are Supervising Producers, and Louisa Briccetti and Victoria Warivonchik are Producers. Peter Gelb is Executive Producer. For Great Performances, Bill O’Donnell is Series Producer; David Horn is Executive Producer.