Giacomo Puccini: La Rondine

  • Opera in 3 acts (1914-1915/1921)
  • 4th version (Bonn-version / Marta Domingo-version)
  • 3 3 3 2 - 4 3 3 1 - timp, perc(4), hp, cel, str, stage music: picc, perc, pno
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute
    2nd flute
    3rd flute (+picc)
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    cor anglais
    1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in Bb
    bass clarinet in Bb
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    1st trumpet in F
    2nd trumpet in F
    3rd trumpet in F
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    3rd trombone
    bass tuba
    1st percussion (glockenspiel)
    2nd percussion (triangle)
    3rd percussion (tambourine)
    4th percussion (bass drum, cymbal)
    violin I
    violin II
    stage music: piccolo
    percussion (glockenspiel, tubular bells)
  • Choir: SATB
  • Composer: Giacomo Puccini

Work introduction

The three-act opera La Rondine (The Swallow) was originally commissioned for the Carltheater in Vienna but, owing to the outbreak of the First World War, was only premiered in Monte Carlo in 1917. The libretto was written by Giuseppe Adami based on the German Die Schwalbe by Alfred Maria Willner and Heinz Reichert. Puccini revised the work a number of times, particularly the end of the second act, meaning that there are now three distinct versions. In the original version (1917), Magda leaves Ruggero because she believes that her dubious past does not permit her to marry him. In the second version (1920), her wish to return to the demimonde is what ultimately triggers her actions. In the third version (1921), Ruggero finds out about Magda’s past through an anonymous letter and leaves her. In spite of these differences in the storyline, the music hardly changed at all.

The setting is Paris during the Second Empire. We find Magda in the house of her wealthy patron Rambaldo, conversing with friends about love. One of the party reads her palm and tells her that one day she will fly like a swallow across the sea for love. Ruggero, a young man from the provinces, arrives in Paris for the first time. Magda’s friends suggest that he sample the nightlife in a dance club. Although irked by his conventional notions of eternal love, Magda falls for him. She parts company with her patron in order to live with Ruggero on the Riviera. However, no sooner has Ruggero had obtained consent from his parents to marry Magda, she explains to him about her old life and leaves him.

The director Marta Domingo, wife of Plácido Domingo, staged the opera in her own adaptation of all three preserved versions, and appended a tragic ending: Magda’s suicide. She first presented it in Bonn in 1995. She also included Ruggero’s aria Parigi! È la città dei desideri in the first act of this version.

The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Oper der Bundesstadt Bonn, Bonn (DE)

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