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4.5 out of 5 stars24
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 27 November 2010
This is a very bitter sweet performance from opera's one time golden couple. The opera which brought them so much praise when they first performed it is now, sadly, their swansong. The Alagna/Gheorghiu marriage was in its decline when they performed in this opera and it shows. Gheorghiu's Magda remains just ever so slightly aloof and Alagna's heartbreak in the final act is extremely moving. A real case of life mirroring art here and all the more poignant and beautiful for it.
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on 4 October 2013
Firstly the sets are extremely good, the first act is a spacious and tastefully furnished drawing room, the second is a night club with tables, a bar at the back and a gallery, quite impressive. Act three is a rather large conservatory with blue and green decorated floor to ceiling glass panels and doors to the outside, drew applause as the curtains went back,
The music is typical Puccini with flowing melodies and mischievous rhythms at times, there is more themes packed into this act than seems possible. I got so absorbed I was late walking the dog.
Angela Gheorghiu is in her element and does a wonderful job throughout, sings beautifully and has a good grip on the character. Alagna is only a whisker behind her vocally, but not quite so credible as the besotted lover.
Oropesa the maid is in good voice and is an absolute delight as is also her poet lover Brenau, good voices and well cast. Magdas trio of friends have good individual voices and blend well together in unison.
I now come to Samuel Ramey, I am afraid he is well past his sell by date vocally, his wavering voice is painful to my ears, it is the main reason for the dropped star. It is a shame because as a young man he was absolutely brilliant. I think he is given a slot as a long service award.
In act two the chorus come into there own and are excellent, there is also some energetic and entertaining dancing with the girls being thrown around quite frighteningly.
In act three there is less action, the opening love duets between Gheorghiu and Alagna are delightful and light hearted, as good as they come.
In the central relief section Oropesa and Brenau provide a nice bit of drama centering on the failure of Oropesa as a night club singer.
The poignant ending is full of pathos and melody withh Alagna looking visisbly upset.
This is an opera easy on the eye and ear, entertaining without massive drama, or great comedy, I do not always want the extremes of emotion this fills the bill extremely well. Pity about poor Ramey.
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on 2 October 2010
Opera-lovers and Puccini himself owe a huge debt of gratitude to Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna, who have invested an enormous amount of their time, enthusiasm and great talents in ensuring that this operatic masterpiece has come to the attention of a global audience over the course of the last decade and a half. Since their wonderful recording of this opera with Antonio Pappano and the London Symphony Orchestra released in 1997 on the EMI label, they have performed and promoted this work in major world opera houses, notably the Royal Opera House and of course here at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Outstanding as their recording was, it is now wonderful to have this superb performance from the Met which adds several extra dimensions to our enjoyment and appreciation of the opera. It has marvellously evocative sets using Art-Deco design for the locations in Paris and Nice. The production is updated from the mid 19th century to the 1920s, an era in which the story and the music fit extremely well. The costumes are excellent and Angela Gheorghiu looks simply gorgeous.

The performance is dominated by the Magda of Angela Gheorghiu. This is a virtually flawless performance (all the more remarkable because this was a live HD transmission on an evening when Ms. Gheorghiu was feeling unwell). She absolutely looks the part, statuesque and beautiful in entirely appropriate costumes. It is, of course, most tellingly because of her marvellous combination of personality, excellent acting and superb singing that we have in her the ideal performer to portray a woman torn between worldliness and romance. Her vocal line is always stunningly beautiful but enhancing this at all times is the wonderful subtlety of her acting and vocal expression. She is clearly living the part rather than just portraying a character.

Roberto Alagna is also excellent, he has aged less well than Gheorghiu and is perhaps not quite looking the young country innocent that was once the case. This is a minor flaw however, his acting and singing are still as excellent as ever and the partnership with his then wife benefits enormously from the closeness and genuine affection that has always been evident in their stage performances.

The second couple in the opera is the slightly incongruous pairing of the poet Prunier and the maid Lisette. Again we are very fortunate to have an almost perfect casting in Marius Brenciu and Lisette Oropesa playing these roles. They are both performers I had never seen before but I was extremely impressed with their performances. They play the comic elements of their roles very well but above all they are again that ideal combination of excellent actors and great singers and between them bring lots of additional nuances to the performance which hugely enhance our enjoyment.

As for the music, it is one of Puccini's most modern and to some extent experimental scores, but above all it is Puccini. It was originally conceived as an operetta and there are still some Viennese elements here, the salon scene, the waltzes and other dance melodies. Above all, however, it is classic Puccini, the memorable melodies are here in abundance. The great quartet from the end of Act 2 is one of his finest ever melodies, it implanted itself into my brain when I first heard it on the 1997 recording and there has scarcely been a day since when I have not sung it to myself. There are other great melodies too, together with all the orchestral brilliance and complexity of mature Puccini.

The DVD is well produced in very high quality sound and picture. The performance was recorded in 2009, so this is a very rapid release as has become the pattern with these HD broadcasts from the Met. The other welcome feature of this excellent series, which is repeated here, is that the list price is very modest and there are usually some very good offers available on these DVDs. Running time is 1 hour 54 mins for the opera programme plus 8 minutes of backstage interviews of the two leading couples by Renee Fleming.
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on 25 June 2011
From beginning to end this "bijou" from Puccini is just pure, lyrical delight. Originally commissioned as an operetta it combines luscious tunes backed up by Puccini's solid operatic mastery. Written with three different endings the first two acts of this three act opera leave one feeling in love with love and beauty just for the sake of it. The glorious soaring notes sung by Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna blend together in such perfection that the listener is transported into a world that could only exist in the musical imagination of a genius. This production from the Met only adds to the perfection of this piece - an emotional tonic worth every penny and to be consumed without moderation!
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on 22 October 2010
This dvd of the stage performance which I saw at Covent Garden is a wonderful reminder of one of the best evenings at the opera that I have ever experienced. A real treasure. The Puccini opera that everyone should make sure that they do not miss.
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on 12 December 2014
Excellent, but sad that Angela Gheorghio who married Roberto Alagna on this DVD seems incapable of staying married to anyone for long due to her theatrical outbursts and rather temperamental disposition! - You might say.....Always a bride...never a bridesmaid!!!
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on 22 January 2011
At last a succesful DVD of Puccini's wonderful opera. This is Puccini having a good time. It's not heavy drama but a constant string of good tunes and fresh and delightful orchestration. The DVD has the ideal cast. There are cases where the work that is really the most inventive and enjoyable in a composer's ouevre is seen as one of his lesser works. There are people who would place la Rondine very high indeed. It's a masterpiece of pure pleasure.
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on 5 September 2013
I recently saw this opera at Covent Garden, with the same lead soprano, Angela Gheorghiu, singing, and the same fantastic stage sets. I was bowled over at The Garden, and enjoyed this Met recording just as much. (it is the same production). The music is delightful, and the acting first rate. Angela Gheorghiu's singing is so relaxed and yet "spot-on", with apparently so little effort to send every word to the back of the house. With so many awful "modern" productions of operas on the market these days, how wonderful to get hold of one which is totally sympathetic to the composer's original. I would recommend this wholeheartedly, to beginners or experienced old-hands.
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on 6 November 2013
This is a wonderful cd, the chemistry between Roberto and Angela is palpable. The singing from all the cast is absolutely devine, I completely lost myself in the beauty of the singing and story, its also a great bonus when the singers can act, which sadly in opera is not always the case.
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on 13 June 2011
I don't understand why this opera isn't performed that much nowadays. This is the best production available. Gheorghiu is great despite the shaky start but I'll leave her off due to the cold she had during the time. Highly recommended to any opera lover!
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