After an absence of 72 years, Puccini's bittersweet romance returns to the Met in a new production with a gala premiere performance on New Year's Eve. La Rondine stars Angela Gheorghiu as Magda, the Parisian socialite, and Roberto Alagna as Ruggero, her lover. Lisette Oropesa, Marius Brenciu, in his Met debut, and Samuel Ramey are the other principal singers. Marco Armiliato conducts.
This Art Deco production by Nicolas JoêŠl originated at London's Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 2004. The sets are by Ezio Frigerio; Franca Squarciapino designed the costumes, and the lighting designer is Duane Schuler. The Met performances are staged by Stephen Barlow and run through February 26, 2009.
La Rondine will be transmitted into movie theaters throughout the world as part of The Met: Live in HD series on Saturday, January 10. It is the sixth high definition transmission of this season.
The piece has only been staged in four prior Met seasons. The company premiere in 1927-28 featured two legendary singers in the lead roles: soprano Lucrezia Bori and tenor Beniamino Gigli, who also sang the work in the following two seasons. A revival in 1935-36 again starred Bori, with Nino Martini singing Ruggero.
About the Performers
Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna sang a special concert of arias and songs with the Met Orchestra and Chorus to a record-breaking crowd of 50,000 in Brooklyn's Prospect Park last June. "Ms. Gheorghiu and Mr. Alagna delivered urgent, stirring and emotional performances that earned them ovation after ovation," said The New York Times of that concert. They have sung La Rondine together at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and have recorded the opera for EMI.
The roles Gheorghiu has sung at the Met include Violetta in La Traviata, Amelia in Simon Boccanegra, Li‹ in Turandot, Micaela in Franco Zeffirelli's new production of Carmen (1996), and Act II of Tosca, the title role, in the season opening gala in 2005. She has starred opposite Alagna at the Met in La Bohme, Rom_o et Juliette (Juliette), and Faust (Marguerite).
Alagna made his Met debut as Rodolfo in La Bohme just two weeks before marrying his MimÐ, Angela Gheorghiu. La Rondine marks the fourth opera the French tenor and his wife have sung together at the Met. Later this season, Alagna takes on the daunting task of singing two starring roles in one evening: Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana and Canio in Pagliacci. Last season, he sang the title role in Rom_o et Juliette, which was transmitted as part of The Met: Live in HD series.
Lisette Oropesa, a 24-year-old member of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, unexpectedly hit the spotlight at the Met last season when she stepped into the role of Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro. Oropesa, who was a National Council Auditions finalist in 2005, also played the First Princess in the new production of Iphig_nie en Tauride last season. She has appeared in three operas that were transmitted in The Met: Live in HD series: as the Dew Fairy in the new production of Hansel and Gretel, as a Lay Sister in the new production of Suor Angelica, and as a Madrigalist in Manon Lescaut.
The 2001 Cardiff Singer of the World winner, Marius Brenciu, makes his Met debut as Prunier. This season the Romanian tenor sings Rodolfo in La Bohme at the Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv and in a new production at the Maggio Musicale in Florence, and plays Gabriele Adorno in Simon Boccanegra at the Hamburg State Opera.
Since his debut as Argante in the Met premiere of Handel's Rinaldo in 1984, the acclaimed bass Samuel Ramey, a Kansas native, has sung 279 performances with the company. Last season he was Kutuzov in War and Peace, which he originally performed at the work's Met premiere in 2002. His repertoire is vast, and he has sung in many new productions, including the title roles of Bluebeard's Castle, Don Giovanni, and Mefistofele; Olin Blitch in the Met's first-ever production of Carlisle Floyd's Susannah; Pagano in the Met premiere of I Lombardi; Zaccaria in Nabucco; Assur in Semiramide; Nick Shadow in The Rake's Progress, and Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. On opening night in 1992, he played all four villains in Les Contes d'Hoffmann.
For tickets and information, visit the The Metropolitan Opera.