Puccin's romantic drama "La Rondine" was something of a problem child for the composer. Opera Theatre's utterly splendid production of the original 1917 version (there are thee altogether) illustrates the issue: Giuseppe Adami's clunker of a libretto. As beautifully sung, impeccably acted, intelligently directed, and generally entertaining as this "La Rondine" is, there's just no getting around those words.
This Saturday, May 30th, Opera Theatre of St. Louis presents Puccini's rarely seen "lyrical comedy" "La Rondine" ("The Swallow") in the original 1917 version. The opera has only been seen once before on the OTSL stage—in 1996, when the company presented the American premiere of the third (1921) version. I interviewed stage director Michael Gieleta via email during the final week of rehearsals.
Chicago opera lovers are getting a "twofer" with this season's dark and compelling production of Puccini's 1900 political melodrama "Tosca." Originally created by British director John Caird for the Houston Grand Opera in 2010 and later revived for Los Angeles, Lyric's "Tosca" opened on January 24th, closed on February 5th, and then re-opened with new singers in the principal roles of Tosca, Cavaradossi, Scarpia, and Spoletta on February 27th for a run that concludes March 14th.
It has been ten years since Union Avenue Opera presented Puccini’s 1904 “Japanese Tragedy” “Madama Butterfly”, and if the current production is any indication, they have waited far too long. Musically and dramatically it’s solid work, with eye-catching sets and costumes to boot.
Opera Theatre’s second production this season is a dramatically powerful and musically impeccable combination of two classics of verismo opera: Puccini’s “Il Tabarro” (“The Cloak”) and Leoncavallo’s “I Pagliacci” (“The Clowns”). “Verismo” is, literally, the Italian for “realism”; the verismo libretti deal with the joys and sorrows of ordinary people. Verismo arose as a kind of reaction to the mythic and historical subjects favored by Verdi and earlier masters.
Winter Opera has closed their current season with a musically splendid and visually satisfying production of Puccini’s 1900 political melodrama “Tosca.” Acting and some casting choices did not always strike me as ideal, but the company sang beautifully, the orchestra sounded solid, and the sets and costumes were, given the group’s small budget, quite lavish.
It's all there: passion, infatuation, love, death, poverty, suffering, joy and art. And yet, La Boheme defies categorization as just another soap opera. After 116 years, Giacomo Puccini's music of the heart still grabs the listener's soul more willingly than any siren call ever could.
Turandot is one of the most popular and, in many ways, most controversial of Puccini’s operas. Left unfinished at the time of the composer’s death in 1924, it has never been given a fully satisfactory finale. Critical opinion has been divided on the work’s merits from the first performance. Even the pronunciation of the title character’s name has been disputed. Do you pronounce that final “t” or not?