This is the DVD that almost didn’t happen, thanks to Roberto Alagna’s now infamous walkout on the second night of this production. Trouble appeared to have been brewing with Alagna even before the prima , but opening night went well enough for him. Then, during the second performance, on December 10, Alagna received a negative reaction from certain members of the audience for his performance of “Celeste Aida.” He walked off stage and could not be persuaded to return, leaving Antonello Palombi (still in street clothes) to take over the performance for him. The Italian press and opera blogs had a field day with this incident…Raymond Tuttle
Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna star in the 2009 Metropolitan Opera production of Puccini’s 'La Rondine'. This new production, directed by Nicholas Joël, was the company’s first staging in 70 years. This elegant romance is the least-known work of the mature Giacomo Puccini. The story concerns a kept woman who defies convention to chase a dream of romantic love with an earnest, if naïve, young man. This Met Opera production features the dynamic soprano Angela Gheorghiu and Frenchborn tenor Roberto Alagna performing the roles of Magda and Ruggero, it blooms into its rightful place in the glorious Puccini canon. 'La Rondine' was commissioned by Vienna’s Carltheater in 1913. Due to the impending outbreak of World War I, premiered in 1917, at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo with Gilda Dalla Rizza and Tito Schipa.
Frank Dunlop's witty, unvarnished view of Donizetti's country comedy, updated to the 1930s, is delightful to see, wondrous to hear. Gheorghiu and Alagna make an ideal partnership as capricious girl and shy bumpkin. They both act and sing their roles to near perfection in a staging that exposes the heart and heartlessness as much as the fun of this work.
Tosca has been well-served on CD, with excellent stereo versions by Renata Tebaldi and Leontyne Price, as well as the definitive monophonic Maria Callas interpretation on EMI. What lifts this new Tosca from the pack of also-rans is Angela Gheorghiu's intense portrait of the heroine. She sings with sweep and passion, convincing you of Tosca's varied emotional states, from love and jealousy to honor and desperation. Her stabbing scene is chilling; she spits out the repeated word "Mouri" (die) with terrifying power. Only in a slightly bumpy "Vissi d'arte" does she fall ever-so-slightly short, wanting the fullness of a true spinto voice to fill out Puccini's arching line… –Dan Davis