Live Cinema Season

Andrea Chénier (2015)

Recorded | Opera

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (including 1 interval)

Andrea Chénier (2015)

David McVicar directs a new production of Umberto Giordano’s passionate drama of liberty and love in the French Revolution, starring Jonas Kaufmann and Eva-Maria Westbroek conducted by Antonio Pappano.

The story

The poet Andrea Chénier attends a party at the Countess di Coigny's mansion. He expresses outrage at the corruption in King Louis XVI's government and the poverty of many Frenchmen. This moves the Countess's daughter Maddalena, and inspires the footman and revolutionary-in-the-making Carlo Gérard to quit his servitude. Soon after, the French Revolution begins.

Five years on, Louis XVI has been executed, the Jacobin party are in power, and their leader Robespierre has imposed 'The Terror'. Gérard has become a leading Jacobin, but Chénier has fallen out of favour with the authorities and is in danger. He delays his flight from Paris to meet a mysterious woman who has written to him. She reveals herself to be Maddalena, and the pair quickly realize they are in love. However, Gérard also desires Maddalena. When Chénier is arrested by the authorities, Gérard realizes that he has the power to destroy the man who once inspired him. As his conscience is tested, so too is the love of Andrea and Maddalena.

Background

Andrea Chénier was Giordano's third opera. The libretto, by Puccini's regular collaborator Luigi Illica, is loosely based on the life and tragic death of the French poet André Chénier, who was executed during the French Revolution. The premiere of Chénier on 28 March 1896 was a great success, and the opera became one of the most popular examples of the verismo (literally, 'realist') movement in Italian opera.

Giordano perfectly captures the atmosphere of Paris pre- and post-Revolution, through music including an elegant Gavotte (Act I) and the popular revolutionary songs 'La Carmagnole' and the 'Marseillaise'. Not surprisingly, the tenor protagonist gets some fine solos, including Act I's ardent aria 'Un dì, all'azzurro spazio', and Act IV's nostalgic 'Come un bel dì di maggio'. But Maddalena and Gérard also have wonderful arias: the former's impassioned 'La mamma morta', and the latter's tormented 'Nemico della patria?' as he wrestles with his conscience in Act III. David McVicar's spectacular, almost cinematic production evokes the profound social changes in late 18th-century Paris, with beautiful, historically-informed sets and costumes by Robert Jones and Jenny Tiramani.

Credits

Music

Umberto Giordano

Libretto

Luigi Illica

Director

David McVicar

Set designer

Robert Jones

Costume designer

Jenny Tiramani

Lighting designer

Adam Silverman

Movement director

Andrew George

Performers

Conductor
Antonio Pappano
Andrea Chénier
Jonas Kaufmann
Maddalena de Coigny
Eva-Maria Westbroek
Carlo Gérard
Željko Lučić
Bersi
Denyce Graves
Madelon
Elena Zilio
Contessa de Coigny
Rosalind Plowright
Roucher
Roland Wood
Pietro Fléville
Peter Coleman-Wright
Fouquier-Tinville
Eddie Wade
Mathieu
Adrian Clarke
The Incredibile
Carlo Bosi
Abbé
Peter Hoare
Schmidt
Jeremy White
Major Domo
John Cunningham
Dumas
Yuriy Yurchuk
Chorus
Royal Opera Chorus
Concert Master
Peter Manning
Orchestra
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House

Cast sheets

Cast sheets are available as PDFs

News and features

To find out more visit the Andrea Chénier (2015) production page.