After obtaining the diploma of the Milan Conservatoire in 1883, the young Puccini took part, with Le Villi, in the First Competition for new operas announced by Edoardo Sonzogno in the pages of “Il Teatro Illustrato”. Since the manuscript score was practically illegible, due to Puccini’s very poor handwriting, the adjudicating commission was unable to examine the work and it therefore did not obtain even a mention. Thanks to a common friend (the librettist Ferdinando Fontana) Arrigo Boito had the occasion to hear the opera played on the piano by the composer himself; thanks to his interest and the contribution of some patrons, Le Villi was staged with much success and the rights were acquired by Boito’s publisher, Giulio Ricordi. From this moment there was born a longstanding relationship between Puccini and Ricordi.

Many years later Puccini entered into conflict with Giulio’s son and successor, Tito, who did not hide his preference for the young Zandonai. From this disharmony was born the collaboration between Puccini and the Sonzogno music publishing house, which led to the contracts regarding La Rondine (1917) and Inno a Roma (1919).

The grave crisis which hit the publishing house in 1920, following the sudden death of Edoardo and Lorenzo Sonzogno, was one of the reasons which led Puccini to entrust his works again to Ricordi.

Puccini had a particular predilection for La Rondine, but was not convinced with regard to certain details of the plot and the effectiveness of the finale. Thus he made a second edition (staged in 1920 in Palermo and Vienna) and finally a third which, however, was not performed at the time. Since 1987 La Rondine has been staged with the finale of the third edition in Bologna, Naples, Turin, Leeds, Ludwigshafen, Bonn, Washington and Los Angeles. The tenor aria in the first act from the second edition has recently been rediscovered. It has been performed in the theatre and recorded on CD by Robert Alagna and José Cura.

  • Poster for the first Italian performance of La rondine (1917, Teatro Comunale, Bologna)
  • Puccini¬ís watch. The plate with a small swallow engraved on it testifies to his predilection for this opera
  • Sketch by Emilio Carcano and Roberta Puddu for the most recent production of La rondine at La Scala, Milan (1994)
  • La rondine (3rd edition) at the Oper der Stadt, Bonn, 1995, director Marta Domingo, scenes and costumes by Michael Scott, protagonist Ainhoa Arteta
  • Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu in La rondine, which they have performed at the Royal Albert Hall (1998) and the Royal Opera House (2002), London, and recorded on CD for EMI