When my Mum and Dad offered to write a short review of La Rondine I must admit I was a little nervous, after following my performances for the past 14 years asking for their opinion reminds me of the line from “Pirates of The Caribbean” – “Wake… the Kraken” as you never quite know what they are going to say……
We were pleasantly surprised that there was such a lovely theatre nestled inside the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, it was beautifully laid out and very well organised, around 300 seats on three tiers, with a large stage area and an orchestra pit. The doors opened at 7:05pm and everyone was in their seats by 7:15pm.
We’d guess there were about 40 musicians in the orchestra who were hidden from view bar the first couple of rows and the upper galleries. Their friends and family must have really enjoyed watching them too, the music was stunning.
There was a wide age range in the audience, it seemed like a near to full house. This was the fourth and final performance. We had a free typed program which was a nice souvenir to take away. A hush descended as the curtain rose on a salon/changing room setting, like a split scene with a clever use of perspective by the set designer. In fact for a student production the sets in Acts I and II were very professional.
We’re not opera goers so we struggled at first with the whole production being sung in Italian until we realised there were subtitles high above us near the roof. With hindsight we would have been better sat in the upper tiers.
The singing, colours and opulent costumes on the stage, brought the show to life. We knew a bit about the plot from the program and Charlotte’s blog post. The scene change between Acts I and II were very quick and well done and we were transported to a night club setting, full of life and movement.
Charlotte had prepared us for her flirty ‘party girl’ character which her Dad felt she was rather too good at! Our eyes followed Charlotte around the stage, dancing, flirting, playing cards, getting her bottom smacked by a sailor and waltzing the night away. The principals developed the story beautifully and the director made good use of the chorus. We’ve watched Charlotte on the stage regularly since she was about six and she always makes us so proud when she comes to life in this environment.
Our favourite bit had to be when Charlotte climbed up on a table and leapt off into the up stretched arms of two muscular guys, cycling her legs in the air, this was amongst so much cast activity and wild abandon it made you feel happy just to watch them obviously enjoying themselves so much as the two main characters fell in love.
As everyone left the stage in groups of friends and couples you did get a sense that the opera was coming to an end with the two main characters leaving to begin their new life together as the curtain dropped.
After a break Act III commenced with a minimal set of a beach and a chaise long. The act was skilfully carried out with just four main characters. The story felt to us like it required another ten minutes to resolve itself with Ruggero perhaps following Magda back to Paris to plead with her to make a go of it with him which he would have done if he truly loved her. But who are we to criticise Puccini whose operas are still being staged nearly 100 years after he wrote it. As an audience member we went from a real happy high feeling to a rapid deterioration, which not being used to the tragedy of opera was strange. Lisette the maid had her dreams of stardom crushed, and Magda the courtesan was reminded of her place and went back to her rich benefactor with her tail between her legs. Bring back the party!
Seriously the singing and music was wonderful all without stage microphones that you usually see taped to people’s heads. The staging was sumptuous and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Well done Charlotte for opening our eyes to a new form of entertainment, you make us very happy 😉
Love Mum & Dad xx