La Scena Musicale

Monday, July 6, 2009

Puccini: La rondine

Svetla Vassileva, (Magda); Maya Dashuk, (Lisette); Fabio Sartori, (Ruggero); Emanuele Giannino, (Prunier); Marzio Giossi, (Rambaldo)
Orchestra and Chorus of the Puccini Festival/Alberto Veronesi
Director: Lorenzo Amato
Naxos 2.110266 (110 min 54 s)
**** $$$
It’s good to have this performance, previously available as an expensive import on the Dynamic label, now on Naxos in Canada at more affordable prices. Dynamic specializes in live performances from Italian regional houses. While often not on the level of La Scala, these productions often have their special charm. This La Rondine comes from the 2007 Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago. Bulgarian soprano Svetla Vassilieva – the best-known singer here – is a good but not scintillating Magda, rather lean of voice and occasionally shrill at the top (incidentally, she was replaced in the recent La Scala I due Foscari by Quebec soprano Manon Feubel). Russian soprano Maya Dashuk is an unusually glamorous Lisette; tenor Emanuele Giannino sings a stylish Prunier. Even though he does not cut a romantic figure, the most outstanding is the ingratiating tenor of Fabio Sartori as Ruggero. Puccini wrote three versions of this opera, but producer Alberto Dellepiane could not resist tinkering with it. He combines parts of the first two versions with a 1994 orchestration by Lorenzo Ferrero in the finale of the third version, left unfinished by Puccini. The co-production with Opera de Nice has nice costumes and decent sets, except for the huge monochrome projections as backdrops. The endless ballet sequences with Broadway-style choreography and heightened eroticism in the background prove jarring in a period production, also hopelessly upstaging the singers. These quibbles aside, anyone who has seen the recent Met in HD production will find this Italian performance an interesting contrast.

- Joseph K. So

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