Until Sat Jan 26
Photograph: Tatjana Vlasova
Not yet rated
Time Out says
Fri Jan 11 2013
Puccini’s La rondine (“the swallow”), which premiered in 1917, finds the composer of Tosca and Turandot on his lightest ground ever. Though it ends with a bittersweet parting of lovers, he intended it to be a champagne (or maybe prosecco) kind of evening: in tone virtually an operetta on the order of Franz Leh‡r’s worldwide box-office smash, The Merry Widow; in melody as hopelessly hummable and unconquerable as the later Les Miz.
Rondine ultimately didn’t attain that grade, but remains a first-class “date opera,” romantic and relatively short. Among much melody and charm, Puccini supplied two great numbers: a ravishing song for the heroine, Magda (the titular restless-courtesan-who-wants-to-be-the-girl-next-door, doomed never to alight for long), and an incredible “applause machine” lovers’ quartet that arrives after Magda—disguised as a simple girl—meets fresh-from-the-provinces Mr. Wonderful (Ruggero) in a Paris café.
The 2008 Met production offers gorgeous sets and costumes for the Parisian and Riviera settings; its positive reception was clouded by a Magda lost in narcissism (Angela Gheorghiu) and a Ruggero (Roberto Alagna) about as shy and unworldly as A-Rod. This year’s team should mark a definite upgrade. Latvian soprano Kristine Opolais, new to New York, is a knockout; the difference between her and her “cover babe” peers is that Opolais has a beautiful, well-trained voice and can really act, acing challenging parts like Butterfly and Rusalka. The charismatic, sensitive tenor Giuseppe Filianoti promises a perfect match as Ruggero.—David Shengold