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A Night at the Opera: Puccini's 'La Rondine'

Events and PerformancesKristina PinoComment

Not quite drama or comedy, this story about love takes place in trendy Paris during the fashionable '20s. The leading lady, Magda, lives under the protection of a patron and enjoys high society. After the company gathers on stage and sings an arrangement about how love doesn't exist, Magda remembers a fling she had years before, and longs for a meaningful relationship (and some fun, really). She takes off to a popular joint to have her night out, and amid some funny chance encounters, takes off with a man she'd only just met.

Now, this would seem like a fun love story up until this point. I thought so, too, but then Act III happened. She's been with her lover for some time, and when he asks her to marry him she has some misgivings about her past, deciding it'd be too shameful for him to be with her. Instead of going with the "love conquers all" route, the story ends with her returning to her patron back in Paris, "where she belongs."

What gives? An ending like that should be illegal!

Something I learned later that evening is the title, "La Rondine," means "the swallow," as in the bird that goes away for a short while then returns. This little escapade of Magda's was treated as a flight of fancy, and a visiting friend from Paris came by her beach-side getaway to tell her that people were talking. Nobody expected Magda to run off with a lover! And her poor protector, all alone back home.

It's a terrible thing that she decided she didn't deserve to be happy. It would have made for a fun, heart warming ending, but even with the ridiculous turn of events that last Act was just gorgeous.

I was fortunate to get to see this as it premiered at the Florida Grand Opera and hope it returns sometime for more people to enjoy!

There are two more shows this season: Rigoletto, which I'm told is dramatic to the max, and Romeo and Juliet, which I had no idea was also an opera. I'm greatly looking forward to both, and will be writing about them here as I see them!

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