Past Determines Destiny?

Back in the day, as World War I was in full swing, when it came to morals? Yes; at least in the world of Opera. So, just like a migratory bird, La Rondine (the swallow) must return north to Paris after an affair on the Riviera, and her dream of having true love after a life as a courtesan cannot be fulfilled. The mores of the day won’t allow it. Puccini, who had been commissioned to write a “Viennese” comic operetta labored over it for over 2 years, and his 1916 opera, based on a libretto by Alfred Maria Willner and Heinz Reichert adapted to the Italian by Guiseppe Adami, is a mix of comedy and tragic romantic love. Despite the seeming contradictions inherent in blending these two staples of classical opera, Opera Santa Barbara’s production pulls it off nicely indeed. There is plenty of comedy, and a good deal of romance, until we reach the end and Magda refuses to marry Ruggero. She flies north, returning to the life of a kept mistress rather than sully the reputation of her new, younger lover and his family.