Music with Ease > 19th Century Italian Opera > La Rondine - Puccini
(English title: The Swallow)
An Opera by Giacomo Puccini
The opera begins in Paris during the Second Empire. Magda, the heroine, is a demi-mondaine living under the protection of the rich banker Rambaldo. Satisfied with the luxuries he lavishes upon her, she longs for true affection, and is unable to stifle the remembrance of her first love, a poor young student. She meets Ruggero, who like her earlier love, is young and poor, and a student. At Bouilliers, the rendezvous of the gay life of Paris, Ruggero declares his love for Magda. They leave Paris for Nice, where they hope to lead an idyllic existence.
Ruggero looks forward to a life of perfect happiness. He writes to his parents asking their consent to his marriage with Magda. The reply is that if she is virtuous and honourable, she will be received with open arms. Magda now considers herself (like Violetta in "La Traviata") unworthy of Ruggeros love and lest shall bring dishonour upon the man she loves, she parts with him. Other principal roles are Lisetta and Prunia, and there are numerous second parts requiring first-rate artists.
In the second act of "La Rondine" is a quartet which, it is said, Puccini believed would rival that at the end of the third act in "La Bohème." "I have let my pen run," he is reported to have said, "and no other method suffices to obtain good results, in my opinion. No matter what marvelous technical effects may be worked up by lengthy meditation, I believe in heart in preference to head."
The opera was produced in March, 1917, in Monte Carlo, and during the summer of the same year, in Buenos Aires. Puccini intended to compose it with dialogue as a genuine opéra comique, but finally substituted recitative. The work is said to approach opéra comique in style. Reports regarding its success vary.
After the first Italian performance, San Carlo Theatre, Naples, February 26, 1918, Puccini, according to report, decided to revise "La Rondine."