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The actress Adriana Lecouvreur is adored by many – including stage manager Michonnet – but she loves Maurizio, Count of Saxony. He is entranced by Adriana, and desperately tries to extricate himself from his former lover, the Princesse de Bouillon.

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The death of French actress Adrienne Lecouvreur inspired many plays and operas, of which Francesco Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur is the finest and most enduring. The opera would become Cilea’s greatest success, renowned particularly for his heroine’s arias ‘Io son l’umile ancilla’ in Act I and ‘Poveri fiori’ in Act IV – though Cilea’s atmospheric and elegant score offers much more besides, with Maurizio’s aria ‘La dolcissima effigie sorridente’, the Act III ballet and Adriana’s intense spoken recitation at the end of that act particular highlights.

David McVicar’s 2010 production was The Royal Opera’s first since 1906. For it, set designer Charles Edwards re-created to exacting detail a working Baroque theatre, similar to the 18th-century Comédie-Française in which the real Adrienne would have performed. Sumptuous period costumes designed by Brigitte Reiffenstuel complete a spectacular production that delves into the intoxicating allure of the theatre.

News and features

  1. Opera in the City of Love: Paris as muse

    13 May 2015

    Composers have been inspired by everything about the French capital – from its seediness to its troubled political history – but most of all by its air of romance.

On Wikipedia

Adriana Lecouvreur is an opera in four acts by Francesco Cilea to an Italian libretto by Arturo Colautti, based on the 1849 play Adrienne Lecouvreur by Eugène Scribe and Ernest Legouvé. It was first performed on 6 November 1902 in Milan.

Abstract taken from the Wikipedia article Adriana Lecouvreur, available under a Creative Commons license.