Giacomo Puccini’s 1917 opera, La Rondine (“The Swallow”), tells the story of Magda, a Parisian courtesan who falls in love with the handsome young Ruggero. Ultimately, Magda is haunted by her past and leaves Ruggero, returning to her old life like a swallow returning to the nest.
The opera’s most famous aria, Chi il bel sogno di Doretta, comes in the first act. At a party, the poet Prunier affirms the power of romantic love. Only Magda takes him seriously. Prunier sings a ballad about Doretta, a young girl who believes so deeply in true love that she rejects the advances of a king. When Prunier is unable to complete the story, Magda provides a sensuous and dreamy second verse.
This extraordinary 1982 performance features Leontyne Price:
Puccini: La Rondine, Chi il bel sogno di Doretta, Leontyne Price Amazon