Today’s HD telecast of Puccini’s afternoon off – La Rondine – was a repeat of the production of 2009 but with a different cast. The composer’s attempt to write an Italian opera vaguely in the style of a Viennese operetta contains a lot of beautiful music in the service of a work that’s not close to the masterpieces of his maturity. He also repeats tunes at a greater than usual frequency – to be sure, they’re good tunes but a little more invention would have made the work stronger. The ’09 telecast was marred by a technical glitch that wiped out the second half of Act 2 and the intermission. Today, management warning that the local bad weather might cause technical problems proved wrong. There was not a hitch in transmission.

For La Rondine to work onstage there must be a fine singing actress as Magda – aka The Swallow. Angel Blue managed the first part with fine singing except for an occasional strained note. The acting part was essentially ignored. She has gained so much weight in recent years that just moving around the stage is the best she can do. Verisimilitude is no longer part of her armamentarium, not that verisimilitude is a regular visitor to the operatic stage.

Tenor Jonathan Tetelman made his Met debut this year as Ruggero the country bumpkin who falls in love with the wrong woman. He started as a baritone and later transitioned to tenor. He has been singing lyric roles such as Rodolfo in La Bohème, but I think he’s really a spinto and should move to heavier roles which apparently he’s doing. His voice seems not fully formed and sometimes quivers a bit. In what is a lyric part he did a lot of fortissimo singing or yelling. His basic sound when under full control is impressive. A plus, he looked great – tall, dark, and handsome. General manager Peter Gelb announced before the show that Tetelman was affected by seasonal allergies, but would soldier on regardless. I’ve already stated many times that singers should not perform if they can’t give their best and that such announcements begging for pre-performance forgiveness are infra dig.

Tenor Bekhzod Davronov gave the best performance of the afternoon as the poet Prunier. He has a fine lyric voice and has been singing leading roles in many houses. He’ll be Alfredo in Santa Fe Opera’s staging of La Traviata this summer. His acting was the best of the cast. The Met should bring him back for bigger roles.

Soprano Emily Pogorelc was the maid Yvette. Vocally she was fine. She portrayed the maid having an affair with Prunier as a flibbertigibbet, a persona she carried through to the intermission interview during which she barely allowed Davronov a word regardless of the question asked. He did manage to say hello to his native Uzbekistan.

Bass-baritone Alfred Walker was very impressive as Rambaldo the man who was keeping Magda before she ran away with Ruggerro. In this production, he took her back when she decided marriage to a rube was not for her. The Met should give him bigger roles. His sound and stage presence are outstanding.

Conductor Speranza Scappucci made her Met debut in this production. The Rome native was the first female conductor at La Scala. She recently has been named the principal guest conductor at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. She led today’s performance with control and polish.

The Met’s art deco sets are still as excellent as 15 years ago. Perhaps even more so given the scenic atrocities that have littered its stage over the last decade and a half. If you are a Puccini fan, and if not you should be, and missed the broadcast catching the repeat next week is worthwhile.

The Met’s program for this performance is below the cast as a pdf.