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CLASSICAL  January 2009

CLASSICAL January 2009

Subject:

Another Met H-D Broadcast Smash

From:

Mitch Friedfeld <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 21 Jan 2009 16:31:25 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (43 lines)

My second Met opera broadcast was Puccini's La Rondine.  As with the
case of Thais last month, this was the first time I'd heard this opera
let alone seen it.  Again it was a sell-out weeks in advance.  And
speaking of sell-outs, the Met's broadcast of Butterfly, on Mar. 7,
is already sold out at the 300-seat theater at which I saw La Rondine.
There's a reason these are sold out: unobstructed views, unlimited legroom
(if your theater has stadium seating), top-notch sound, they're affordable,
and there's popcorn if you want it.

This was the first Met performance of La Rondine since -- are you
ready for this?  -- 1936.  Angela Gheorghiu and especially Roberto Alagna
have taken some flack over the years, but they were in great form and
totally convincing to me today...even with Gheorghiu suffering a cold
that prompted a pre-performance announcement from Peter Gelb, Met Opera
chairman.  Renee Fleming -- separated at birth from Katie Couric?  --
had some winning intermission interviews with the leading roles.  And
there was a preview of The Audition, a film about the travails faced by
competitors in the Met's young singers competition; the event looks scary
and the film might be very good.  Coming this spring.

I thought the opera itself was excellent with one problem.  Acts 1 and
2 were great.  Gheorghiu has an aria early on with the poet Prunier that
was fabulous.  And the cafe scene that comprises all of Act 2 was very
reminiscent of the La Boheme street scene.  The full-ensemble singing
that crowns this act brought me to my feet, figuratively.  Act 3, however.
Great singing and acting, especially by Alagna, but it is kind of short
measure.  The appearance of Magda's ex-lover, Rambaldo, felt perfunctory;
in fact, that entire role, sung by Samuel Ramey, was not well-developed.
And the ending, in which Magda abandons Ruggero because of her past with
Rambaldo, was not convincing; neither was the final scene.

La Rondine may not be top-drawer Puccini but it is undeniably Puccini.
This performance, in its totality, was wonderful.  And at $22 a ticket,
you can't beat it.  Next on my Met H-D list will probably be Lucia di
Lammermoor, with Netrebko.

Mitch Friedfeld

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