Librettist, Giuseppe Adami
La Rondine (1914 - 1916)
Background: Giacomo Puccini went to Vienna in 1913 for a new production of La Fanciulla del West . While he was there, he was contacted by the directors of the Karltheater, who asked him to write a new work for them. They gave him a libretto, which he didn't like, and he commissioned librettist Giuseppe Adami to write a new libretto for him, based on an Italian version of a revised German text. Adami, like those before him, found himself constantly revising and changing his work at Puccini's request, although he had much more patience for the composer's demands than had his predecessors. Towards the end of 1914, much work had been done, but Puccini was still unhappy with the piece. The end of the year found several European countries at war: Austria , Serbia , Germany and Belgium . Italy entered the war in the spring of 1915, and Puccini was profoundly depressed. He struggled on with La Rondine , without the support of his great mentor, Giulio Ricordi, who had died in 1912. Ricordi's son, Tito, who continued to run the great publishing house of Milan, did not have the same committment to the relationship with the composer as his father had, and never really believing in the opera, refused to publish it. To make matters worse, by the time the opera was finished in October 1915, civilian travel throughout much of Europe was impossible because of the war. Since the contractual obligation with the Karltheater was that La Rondine would receive its premiere at their theatre in Vienna , it seemed that the opera might not make it to the stage at all. Finally, in 1916, Puccini sold the rights to the opera to another Milanese publisher, Casa Sonzogno, who planned to hold the premiere in Monte Carlo . Puccini went to Monte Carlo to prepare the opera, and it finally premiered there on March 17, 1917, at Théâtre du Casino.
Synopsis: Magda, the mistress of a wealthy banker, Rambaldo, is serving tea to guests when another unexpectedly arrives: he is Ruggero, son of an old friend of Rambaldo's. Ruggero has not been to Paris before, and his new friends excitedly suggest that he should attend the Bal Bullier that night. The idea also appeals to Magda, who is yearning to find real love. Later, dressed in her maid's clothing, she goes alone to the Bullier , attracting the attention of all the young men as she arrives. Seeing Ruggero sitting alone, she joins him and he asks her to dance. They become more and more attracted to each other, and as they fall in love, they are eventually joined by two of Magda's friends, who fail to recognize her. Rambaldo arrives, and Magda begs Ruggero to leave her for a few minutes. Rambaldo confronts her, and she confesses her love for Ruggero and her intention to stay with him. Rambaldo departs, and Ruggero and Magda leave together. After leading a blissful life together on the Riviera , Ruggero tells Magda that he has written to his family to ask their blessing in his upcoming marriage to her. His mother's response arrives, saying that she hopes Ruggero's bride is a virtuous and worthy woman. Overcome with sadness and regret, Magda reveals her past to Ruggero and tells him that she can never be his wife. She leaves Ruggero, devastated with misery, to return to Rambaldo.
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