Take a chance in love: La Rondine at Opera San Jose

Magda in La Rondine

Opera San Jose recently invited us to attend opening night of Puccini’s La Rondine, and as I have a few friends who are crazy about opera, I decided to give it a go.  The result was that I loved La Rondine and cannot wait to attend more shows at Opera San Jose.  I also think that everyone would love this show whether you think you would like opera or not.  The problem in which I find myself now is that I realize I have no real knowledge of opera, so this review is going to be written from a strictly layperson’s point of view.

But perhaps this is a good thing.  Because I went into this show with an open mind and came out a huge fan, and I am a little disappointed to realize I have missed a lot of opera productions over the years.   But perhaps I can encourage some readers to give it a try with my novice’s take on the delightful show.

Cancan Dancers!

First, the opera productions are held in the beautiful California Theatre, and really I’ll take any excuse to attend an event at the Cal Theatre.  Second, the audience is dressed to the nines.  If you’d like an excuse to dress like a movie star, you’ll fit right in at the opera!  On the other hand, I wore black slacks and a nice blouse and my friend wore a dress with boots and we felt fine.  I do not recommend jeans.

Second, there are subtitles!  That’s right, subtitles at a live opera production!  There is a long screen hanging from the top of the stage where the subtitles are broadcast.  This puts it completely out of the way for anyone who wants no part of this technology, but is 100% helpful for those of us opera newbies.   So there is nothing to not understand, it is right there in front of you.

At Bullier's

As for La Rondine, it’s a great story with love, drama and humor too, and how can you go wrong with cancan dancers?  It is the story of Magda, a young “kept woman” who is adored by Rambaldo.  But when a young man named Ruggero visits the home, Magda is intrigued and secretly follows him to the Cabaret where they fall in love.  In a side story, the poet Prunier is in love with Magda’s maid Lisette, though they hide their affair because Lisette is not up to Prunier’s perceived status.   These two provide some comic relief and were my favorite characters.

A full synopsis is available at the Opera San Jose site, but I am trained to not give away spoilers.  I just can’t do it.

On the Riviera

The sets are beautiful, and the set for the third act was breathtaking.  In the first act we are at Magda’s luxurious home in Paris.  Plush sofas, opulent wallpaper, a large mirror, and a grand balcony are included in this set.  The second act is at Bullier’s, the Cabaret.  As this scene is filled with a “lesser” class of people, it is not as fancy, but still fun.  The third act is at Ruggero’s house on the Riviera and the audience is treated with a striking view of the blue sea.  This was my favorite of all three sets.  I can’t explain enough how breathtakingly gorgeous that last set was.

The costumes are darling, with beautiful waltz and party dresses for the women and delightful can-can costumes for the Cabaret dancers.   The entire visual world of this opera was a treat.

The orchestra is perfection.

The singing is where my lack of knowledge comes in.   I couldn’t identify an aria if my life depended on it.  But the singing was lovely, and I never felt like I was sitting in a stuffy, stereotypical opera.   The first scene is a party and everyone is having fun; the singing reflects this.  At Bullier’s there is more fun and dancing to be had.  And the last scene, where sadness is introduced, the songs make you want to cry.

Because I am an opera novice, I am unable to tell a seasoned opera fan if this is a fantastic production or not.  I can only say that I enjoyed myself immensely and so did my friend.  We really look forward to future shows and are disappointed that we will have to wait until the fall for the next one.  You, however, can still experience La Rondine.  Do it! Take a chance!  Broaden your horizons and enjoy something you might have thought you would not.  I think you might be surprised at how much you enjoy yourself!

Plays through May 9.
All shows at 8pm except Sunday at 3pm
Ticketing instructions here.

1 Comment so far

  1. This Is The Kind Of Review I Love! at oboeinsight (pingback) on April 28th, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

    […] RTWT. Really. […]

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.