25 June 2013 at 12.47pm | 8 Comments
The premiere took place in Monte Carlo in 1917 but Nicolas Joël’s Royal Opera production of La rondine takes us to the era that came immediately after - the glamorous world of Art Deco, evoked with lavish costumes, fabulous jewellery and exquisite sets.
Magda, the heroine of the piece, is a courtesan who exploits men and their wealth. In her wonderful aria, Doretta's Dream, she imagines a different sort of life - true love with a penniless student. Unlike Mimi (Puccini's flirtatious heroine in La bohème), she does not die but continues her life as a kept woman, at the cost of abandoning the man who really loves her. Doretta's Dream turns out to be just a dream.
Like the characters of The Great Gatsby (currently playing to packed cinemas in Baz Luhrmann's starry film adaptation) the protagonists of La rondine live in a world of pretence, decadence and hypocrisy. Daisy Buchanan and Magda share many similarities. Both are glamorous and compelling women, but also shallow and self-absorbed. Both are ultimately ruled by their instinct for survival.
I love this production, not least because Puccini's score is so unique. The show has everything: wonderful music, great dances and, above all, a great cast.
La rondine runs from 5 – 21 July. Tickets are on sale now. The production is sponsored by Coutts. Generous philanthropic support was given by Mr and Mrs Christopher W.T. Johnston and The American Friends of Covent Garden.