Opera Scotland

Rondine 2014Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Read more about the opera Rondine

For their last production of the season, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland chose Puccini's rarely performed La Rondine. It has taken nearly a century for this superb piece to reach Glasgow - symptomatic of the general neglect it suffered until recently. The student cast and orchestra gave a satisfying and mature account.

The director and designers came up with a stylish concept, with a few acceptable changes to the scenario. The period was updated to around 1930, with the opening act set backstage in a theatre, instead of in a Parisian salon. Thus Magda was an actress, Lisette her dresser, and the other ladies also performers. Sundry stage door johnnies were in evidence, including Ruggero, while Prunier was not just a poet, but a song-writer. This all worked well. So too was the second act set in a club, a rather louche establishment, and the third act, on the Riviera, was suggested lightly with some beach furniture, and stylishly fashionable outfits.

On opening night, the orchestra under Oliver Rundell settled straight in to the luscious themes that Puccini invents for this work. The four lead roles were all well taken. With a pair of sopranos and a pair of tenors it is essential to differentiate the characters, and this was neatly done.

Ragnheidur Oladottir took a few minutes to settle, but after that her voice had ample reserves for the soaring phrases which were required as her relationship with Ruggero deepened. The second half of the opera depends largely on this lead couple, and Andreas Backlund's voice has a dark, baritonal timbre that opens out excitingly at the top. The two voices blended well in their important duets, and they can both act convincingly.

The contrasting couple need appropriately lighter and brighter tones, and these were effectively provided by Barbara Cole Walton and Joseph Oparamanuike, completely distinctive, and again, well matched. The smaller roles were generally well characterised, and the director made sure the chorus players were all given distinct characters, both as café patrons and staff.

It was interesting to see this rarity so close to Puccini's widely accepted masterpiece, Madama Butterfly, revived a couple of nights earlier by Scottish Opera. Clearly Butterfly is far the greater, more consistent work, but there is still so much in Rondine that oozes quality that it really should be heard far more often than it is.

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Ticket prices are £25.50 (21.50);  £22.50 (£19); £19.50 (£16.50).

Performance Cast

Magda de Civry a courtesan, Rambaldo's mistress

Ragnheidur Óladóttir (May 10, 13)

Melanie Gowie (May 12, 15)

Ruggero Lastouc a young man from the provinces

Andreas Backlund (May 10, 13)

Jonathan Cooke (May 12, 15)

Lisette Magda's maid

Barbara Cole Walton (May 10)

Hazel McBain (May 12, 13, 15)

Prunier a poet

Joseph Oparamanuike (May 10, 13)

Luperci de Souza (May 12, 15)

Rambaldo Fernandez a Parisian banker, Magda's protector

Arshak Kuzikyan

Yvette a guest at the salon

Zoe Perman

Bianca a guest at the salon

Dana Cerminaro

Suzy a guest at the salon

Elfa Stefánsdóttir

Périchaud a guest at the salon

Brian McBride

Gobin a guest at the salon

Ian McBain

Crébillon a guest at the salon

Colin Murray

Major-domo

James Corrigan

Performance DatesRondine 2014

Map List

New Athenaeum Theatre | Glasgow

10 May, 00.00 12 May, 00.00 13 May, 00.00 15 May, 00.00

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