Kindly supported by Förderkreis der Deutschen Oper Berlin e. V.
“Puccini’s writing an operetta.” Though the whisper might have surprised us today, it would hardly have raised eyebrows in 1913, a time when there was no clear dividing line between “serious” and “entertaining” music. Pietro Mascagni, too, produced an operetta and Ruggero Leoncavallo began writing them in 1906. Puccini did impose one condition, however, when the Carltheater in Vienna approached him with the proposition. No dialogue!
Magda, an attractive courtesan, evokes a swallow in the imagination of the poet Prunier. He prophesies that she will fly off in the direction of the sun and love. Magda is in a relationship with the banker Rambaldo, but then she meets Ruggero, the son of a friend of Rambaldo. Ruggero is new in Paris and is taken to Bullier’s dance tavern by Magda’s and Rambaldo’s friends. Magda appears at the tavern in disguise and falls in love with Ruggero. Rambaldo arrives abruptly, just as the couple are declaring their love for each other. Magda formally breaks off her relationship with Rambaldo, foregoing his money. She moves to the Riviera with Ruggero, where they live modestly. She has a bad conscience because she has told her lover nothing about her previous life as the mistress of Rambaldo. The latter would be willing to forgive on condition that she return to him. She is as reluctant to take this option as she is to stay with Ruggero, to whom she has now confessed everything.
In mounting this rare work by Puccini the Deutsche Oper Berlin has enlisted the services of star tenor Rolando Villazón, who has recently been attracting attention as a director of operas, staging WERTHER in Lyons and THE ELIXIR OF LOVE in Baden Baden.
Opera in 3 acts
Libretto by Giuseppe Adami, based on „Die Schwalbe“ (The Swallow) by Alfred Maria Willner and Heinz Reichert
First performed on 27th March, 1917 in Monte Carlo
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 8th March, 2015
Pre-performance lecture (in German): 45 minutes prior to each performance