The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation filmed La Rondine for television in 1971 as a vehicle for Stratas, a bewitching singer-actor who made her name in grittier parts than Magda, the “swallow” of the title.
Now on DVD, it is a period piece – not just for the sets and costumes but also the old-fashioned production values. The use of a film set creates realistic expectations that are not fulfilled by the acting, and the performance is sung in English, somehow underlining the work’s operetta derivation and the plot’s triviality.
Nevertheless, Stratas’s sincerity and Hollywood-esque camera-friendliness cast a spell over the whole venture, evoking comparisons with her Violetta in Zeffirelli’s La traviata. And in “Doretta’s Song”, Puccini hit on one of his prettiest tunes.
(Video Artists International)