The Swallow

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
In Italian language with German and English surtitles

“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 past her first bloom, 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.

Program and cast

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February 2019

Deutsche Oper Berlin

The Deutsche Oper Berlin is an opera company located in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, Germany. The resident building is the country's second largest opera house and also home to the Berlin State Ballet.

The company's history goes back to the Deutsches Opernhaus built by the then independent city of Charlottenburg—the "richest town of Prussia"—according to plans designed by Heinrich Seeling from 1911. It opened on November 7, 1912 with a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, conducted by Ignatz Waghalter. After the incorporation of Charlottenburg by the 1920 Greater Berlin Act, the name of the resident building was changed to Städtische Oper (Municipal Opera) in 1925.

Deutsches Opernhaus, 1912
With the Nazi Machtergreifung in 1933, the opera was under control of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Minister Joseph Goebbels had the name changed back to Deutsches Opernhaus, competing with the Berlin State Opera in Mitte controlled by his rival, the Prussian minister-president Hermann Göring. In 1935, the building was remodeled by Paul Baumgarten and the seating reduced from 2300 to 2098. Carl Ebert, the pre-World War II general manager, chose to emigrate from Germany rather than endorse the Nazi view of music, and went on to co-found the Glyndebourne opera festival in England. He was replaced by Max von Schillings, who acceded to enact works of "unalloyed German character". Several artists, like the conductor Fritz Stiedry or the singer Alexander Kipnis followed Ebert into emigration. The opera house was destroyed by a RAF air raid on 23 November 1943. Performances continued at the Admiralspalast in Mitte until 1945. Ebert returned as general manager after the war.

After the war, the company in what was now West Berlin used the nearby building of the Theater des Westens until the opera house was rebuilt. The sober design by Fritz Bornemann was completed on 24 September 1961. The opening production was Mozart's Don Giovanni. The new building opened with the current name.

© Günter Karl Bose
© © Günter Karl Bose
© Bettina Stöß
© © Bettina Stöß
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