“This is something of a find – a production produced in Milan's television studios in 1973 that does more than justice to Giordano's verismo work about personal conflicts at the time of the French Revolution. It's directed, with considerable imagination, by the Czech Vaclav Kaslik, at the top of his profession in the 70s. In realistic period sets he unerringly creates the milieu of a degenerate aristocracy in Act 1 and of the raw mob-rule of the Revolution in the succeeding acts. The only drawback is the poor lip-synch. Conductor Bruno Bartoletti makes certain we're unaware of the score's weaker moments and releases all the romantic passion in Giordano's highly charged writing for his principals.
Out of all Italian verismo operas, Umberto Giordano's Andrea Chénier is one of the few of lasting popularity that is still performed regularly on major opera stages worldwide. This 1981 production features a stellar Plácido Domingo in the title role and a classic staging by Otto Schenk, making for one of the finest readings of the opera. Andrea Chénier was an overwhelming success when premiered at La Scala in 1896 and first performed in Vienna in 1926, returning to the stage whenever a truly great tenor was available to tackle the demanding title role. Gabriela Benacková and Piero Cappuccilli lead a strong supporting cast in this tragic love story set during the times of French Revolution.
Andrea Chénier is a verismo opera in four acts by the composer Umberto Giordano, set to an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica. It is based loosely on the life of the French poet, André Chénier (1762-1794), who was executed during the French Revolution.
Andrea Chénier remains popular with audiences, though it is now less frequently performed than it was during the first half of the 20th Century. One reason that the opera has stayed in the repertoire is due to the magnificent lyric-dramatic music provided by Giordano for the tenor lead, which gives a talented singer many opportunities to demonstrate his histrionic skill and flaunt his voice. Indeed, Giuseppe Borgatti's triumph in the title part at the first performance immediately propelled him to the front rank of Italian opera singers. Borgatti went on to become Italy's greatest Wagnerian tenor rather than a verismo-opera specialist.
Andrea Chénier presents a fictionalized account of the last years of the French poet André Chénier, guillotined during the Reign of Terror in 1794. It is the greatest of Giordano’s operas and shows why Puccini sometimes feared Giordano as a rival. Taking the starring role of Chénier, with its three marvellous arias, is Jonas Kaufmann. Soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek sings the role of Chénier’s beloved Maddalena and baritone Željko Lučić stars as Carlo Gérard – the servant-turned-revolutionary who is Chénier’s rival for the love of Maddalena. David McVicar brings Giordano’s thrilling historical drama back to the Royal Opera House for the first time since 1985 in a stunning new production.