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Although one of his most consistently lyrical operas, La rondine remains one of Puccini' least known. Dissatisfied with the result of his work, Puccini wrote three versions, with two different endings, and continued to make further revisions up to h
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**** SPOILER ALERT *****
My main contribution here will be to let people know that this recording of La Rondine has the alternate ending (there were actually 2 versions of the alternate) where Magda's & Ruggero's vocal lines are actually swapped.
By that, I mean that this is the ending where Ruggero gets the letter from his mother alerting him that Paulette is really Magda, a courtesan & the lover of Rambaldo. He confronts her after seeing that Rambaldo has visited her & left a pin of the swallow & some money. He shuns Magda telling her that she has disgraced him & that he cannot live with her any longer and he leaves her. Magda, heartbroken, decides to take her own life by walking into the sea to drown herself.
I can also add that from listening to the voices in the samples, this isn't my kinda singing. The Magda scoops a lot and has a harsh older sound that isn't the fresh sweet singing one associates with Magda's role. The Ruggero did a lot of that unnecessary "hiccuping" that's supposed to sound afflicted and sincere but just gets annoying.
There's my 2 bits for what it's worth. I'm sure it's not worth as much as if I had listened to the entire recording- but I wanted to warn any prospective purchasers about the ending. I personally prefer the other ending- this one is depressing without the real heartache of the original. I find it even more poignant in the original ending where SHE leaves him because she loves him and realizes that it would never work. What can I say? this is my personal favorite opera and I hope this will help someone to decide. :)
Svetla Vassileva was as recently as 2008 singing Verdis Giovanna D'Arco in Parma. (My brother was her tenor lead in those performances) She exhibits a fairly good size voice with a strong if somewhat edgy top. She can float some lovely top notes, but the basic quality of the voice is, I think, more suited to Verdi. It doesn't have the lovely sound one associates with Puccini sopranos. Fabio Sartori has the Italianate sound, but has the provincial habit of starting every phrase with the Italian sob or, as I like to put it"kvetch". Its unnecessary, and detracts from what could have been a decent performance. The other singers are fine and actually Alberto Veronesi conducts a very heartfelt, idiomatic performance. He would have done better with better singers. The sound is O.K. if somewhat dry. Stick with the EMI performance with Gheorgiu and Alagna. Its as close to perfection as we'll find nowadays. The older Sony recording with Domingo had a georgeous sounding, but tepid Kiri te Kanawa as Magda. Puccini was just not her "Fach" at all. Evan she recently admitted on a radio program her Tosca was "awful"