A contemporary of Puccini and Mascagni, Giordano shared the other composer’s attraction to the verismo style, which represented everyday life in a naturalistic fashion (often including the less savoury aspects). His score is dotted with local and historical colour, including aristocratic dances and popular songs from the French Revolution. Giordano works these pastiches of eighteenth-century music into a score rich in expressive and emotional depth, ranging from striking arias for the principals, to bold ensemble pieces.
Based on the life of the French poet André Chénier, the opera is a tragic tale of love and revenge. Chénier vies with the servant Carlo Gérard for the love of Maddalena, a young aristocrat. Chénier protects her when her fortunes turn in the French Revolution, but in doing so, he provokes Gérard’s envy and triggers a fatal series of events.
The glorious lyric-dramatic music written for the title role is a perfect match for the charismatic Jonas Kaufmann, hailed by many as the outstanding tenor of our time. Eva-Maria Westbroek’s career is also at a high point, winning critics’ admiration for her performance as Anna Nicole Smith in 2011. It’s an unmissable opportunity to see two stars in a jewel of the operatic repertoire. Book now.
The Critical Perspective
Andrea Chénier has been warmly received all round. The Daily Telegraph's Rupert Christiansen began his four-star review by praising director David McVicar's "handsome and efficient staging", before hailing the cast as "gold-plated." In The Observer, Fiona Maddocks delivered a similar verdict, singling out Jonas Kaufmann for "invest[ing] a far greater range of feeling than perhaps even the composer himself might have dreamed possible." Although several reviewers have warned the audience to expect "a hoary old operatic melodrama" and a lack of "theatrical profundity" (The Spectator), the overwhelming consensus is that this is a successful, back-to-basics production that delivers bombastic fun.
|What||Andrea Chénier, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
20 Jan 15 – 06 Feb 15, 7:30 PM – 9:45 PM
|Website||Click here for more information via the Royal Opera House|