La Rondine

MICHAEL DRAKE Norwich Theatre Royal

MICHAEL DRAKE

Norwich Theatre Royal

Of course it rarely runs smoothly all the time but in this story of true love (well, love anyway) the ending last evening was quite tragic.

From the overture - with the Opera North Orchestra, conducted by Richard Farnes, enjoying Puccini's music - it was obvious why this is dubbed 'light opera' although the build up to the ending is far from this. The quintet of principals quickly set out their character stalls in rather dark and broody dress and set.

Alan Oke was a demonstrative, and anything but fey, poet Prunier, who soon took to the lively Lisette (Gail Pearson) whose mistress Magda (Janis Kelly) was a clear and powerful soprano - particularly in interpreting the poet's 'Doretta's Dream'. In the end it was all a dream as Rambaldo (bass, Jonathan Best) her rich, jealous lover, tries to hold on to her love.

Enter tenor Ruggero (Rafael Rojas) handsome and penniless of course, though, with a tendency to unnecessary swoops) as the scene changes to the bright lights of Paris where Puccini shows his mastery of passionate singing. Brighter still is the third act, set on the Riviera, and a romantic beach where the new lovers try life 'away from it all'. It turns out to be less than idyllic as Rambaldo finds them and Ruggero feels betrayed. In an emotional final scene, true love fails to conquer and Magda, the poor little swallow, of the title, is alone, comforted only by Lisette.

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t La Rondine is repeated on Saturday, May 6. Box office: 01603 630000.

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