La Rondine at Opera Holland Park
La Rondine has a rather varied history and is often regarded as Puccini’s ‘poor cousin’ opera. He was, even until his death, unhappy with each of the three versions that he wrote (1917, 1920, 1921) and never gave a clear indication as to his preferred ending he preferred. Due to World War 1, the world premiere, which was meant to be in Vienna, actually took place in Monte Carlo in 1917. It wasn’t until 1994 that the third version was heard in Turin, having been comprehensively restored as a result of war damage to the original score. In the early 21st century Angela Georgiou took on the role as Magda as one of her favourites, singing in the original version in Europe and America to great acclaim.
The performance at Opera Holland Park started on a very cold, wet and windy evening. Indeed, the opera itself took some time to warm up. The orchestra of the City of London’s Sinfonia was well and actively conducted by Matthew Kofi Waldren and as the players and singers warmed up, so did the audience. The Director, Martin Lloyd-Evans, gave us a simple relevant production, with a clever transition from the Act 1 home set to the Act 2 café scene. The curtains covering the stage in Act 1 were pulled away to reveal the Act 2 café set. The third Act on the Cote d’Azur revealed the back of the hotel and a half swimming pool, which with the substantial lighting gave the audience, in their stormy surroundings, a vision of warmer climates.
Everything certainly did warm up when the two principle lovers, the Magda of Elizabeth Llewellyn and the Ruggero of Matteo Lippi, were on stage. Elizabeth Llewellyn, who was supported by ENO at the National Opera Studio, has a wonderful deep creamy intense soprano voice, very suited to her role. She was wonderfully matched by her lover, sung by the Italian, Matteo Lippi, who projected a beautiful Italianate tenor sound, which enlivened the audience all evening. The Prunier of Stephen Aviss and his lover, the maid Lisette, sung by the British soprano, Tereza Gevorgyan, gave us a great interpretation of their roles, even though sometimes sung slightly on the light side. David Stephenson was an authoritative Rambaldo and the rest of the cast was well sung.
This is the second independent season of the Investec Opera Holland Park and they continue to give their audience the most entertaining evenings in the fresh air of a beautiful London park.
With kind regards,
Tuesday, 6 Jun 2017