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A Soprano ‘Swallow’s A Challenging Role In Puccini’s “La Rondine”

"I think Puccini's heroines are stronger than Verdi’s. Magda's every bit as strong and self-deluded as Tosca or Madama Butterfly.”

Event Information

La Rondine

Opera by Giacomo Puccini. Conducted by David Effron. Stage Director: Vincent Liotta. Set Designer: Bill Forrester. Costumes: Linda Pisano.


IU Opera Theater

February 26-27, March 5-6, 2010

IU Opera Theater

Department Of Theater And Drama

Giacomo Puccini’s La Rondine is coming to the IU Opera Theater. Its title translates to “The Swallow.”

Soprano Meghan Dewald is a veteran singer, who has played roles in operas that range from the stately Handel to the wild video pieces of Osvaldo Golijov. She came in to speak with George Walker at WFIU.

Highlights From The Interview

“Yes, I have really been blessed with opportunities to sing an incredible range of pieces, and it’s great. But every soprano wants to sing Puccini,” Dewald says.

The heroine of La Rondine is a young woman in Paris with romantic fantasies finding unexpected troubles. “We first find Magda at the center of a party in her house hosting a fabulous affair with her benefactor Rambaldo. Apparently she’s leading a charmed life, but she expresses a certain discontent, a longing. The son of a distant family friend, Ruggero, arrives. By act two, they have fallen in love and she’s left her comfortable position for a little cottage by sea.”

Linda Pisano from IU’s Department of Theatre and Drama is the costume designer for the show. Dewald spoke with pleasure about the costumes Pisano crafted for her. “Magda is the most fashion forward of her circle of friends. Her friends are fashionably dressed, but she’s one step more toward couture. She’s wearing a fortune gown, non-corseted, very lovely. But, then Magda decides to try to recapture her romantic youth and dresses as a grissette in shirt waist, long skirt and boots for an evening at the club Brullier. And later there’s a simple outfit for the beach cottage.”

La Rondine is a lesser-known opera by a well-known composer. The original commission called for a comic opera with no spoken dialogue, in the style of Der Rosenkavalier, only more entertaining and more organic. “People sometimes call this Traviatta ‘lite,’” Dewald says, “But I like to think that Puccini made his heroines stronger than Verdi’s. Magda is every bit as strong, and sometimes as self deluded, as Tosca and Madama Butterfly.”

George Walker

After completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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