Opera Matinee: Andrea Chénier
Umberto Giordano's Andrea Chenier, recorded at La Scala, Milan, starring Yusif Eyvazov and Anna Netrebko. Riccardo Chailly conducts. Presented by Tom Redmond
Giordano's Andrea Chénier recorded at La Scala, Milan, starring Yusif Eyvazov and Anna Netrebko. Riccardo Chailly conducts. Presented by Tom Redmond
Andrea Chénier was premiered at La Scala in 1896 and this special performance was recorded in December last year to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of the legendary conductor Victor de Sabata.
The opera describes the life and untimely death of the French poet André Marie Chénier who was guillotined in 1794 just before the end of the Reign of Terror in the French Revolution. He falls in love with Maddalena , daughter of the Countess of Coigny, who had initially treated him with disdain but changes her view of him when her mother is murdered by the revolutionaries. Chénier is sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Tribunal, and Maddalena visits him in prison. She bravely bribes the jailer to let her take the place of another condemned prisoner, and the couple express their love for each other as they go to meet their death.
Giordano: Andrea Chénier
Andrea Chénier....Yusif Eyvazov
Maddalena di Coigny.....Anna Netrebko
Carlo Gérard....Luca Salsi
La mulatta Bersi....Annalisa Stroppa
La Contessa di Coigny....Mariana Pentcheva
Pietro Fléville....Costantino Finucci
Fouquier Tinville....Gianluca Breda
Un incredibile....Carlo Bosi
Schmidt....Romano Dal Zovo
Il maestro di casa/Dumas....Riccardo Fassi
Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan
Riccardo Chailly, conductor
c. 4.00 pm
Sibelius: The Bard
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Rory Macdonald, conductor
c. 4.05 pm
Anton Urspruch: Piano Concerto
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Emmanuel Despax, piano
Eugene Tzigane, conductor
Act OneThe castle of the Counts of CoignyOn the eve of the French revolution, the nobility continue to lead their usuallifestyle. Preparations for a ball are underway at the castle of Coigny. Ayoung servant, Carlo Gérard, whose father is employed in heavy labour,shows his contempt for the nobles, pitying the fate of the lower classes. Heis, however, secretly in love with the Countess’ daughter, Maddalena, whoarrives with the guests who are totally unperturbed by the news of riots inParis. Among the guests is a young poet, Andrea Chénier. The Countess ofCoigny asks him to improvise a poem, but he declines the request. Maddalenaand the other guests mock him and the young poet replies defending hisideals strongly and inviting those present to respect such a noble sentimentas love in the moral decline of society. Maddalena is struck by his words.While the guests prepare for the ball, the party atmosphere is dampened bythe appearance of a group of beggars, introduced into the castle by Gérard.The Countess confronts her servant over the intrusion. He reacts by strippingoff his livery and leaving, taking his father with him. The ball continues withthe guests dancing a gavotte.
Act TwoParis, one day in June 1794In Paris, at the time of the Terror, Chénier is suspected by the revolutionarygovernment and kept under surveillance by an incroyable under the commandof Gérard, who has meanwhile become one of the revolutionary leaders.For some time, a mysterious woman has been writing to the poet, askingfor his help. The woman in question is Maddalena, who has lost hermother, murdered by the revolutionaries, and is forced to live in hiding.Chénier is invited by his friend Roucher, who has found him a passport, toescape in order to avoid arrest. Still, despite being fully aware of the danger,Chénier wants to discover the identity of the unknown woman. Maddalena’sformer maid manages to bring a message to the poet arranging ameeting with Maddalena that very evening. The two young people meetand Chénier recognises the young Countess, who, since they last met, haslost her air of superiority and is greatly changed. The two fall in love witheach other. But Gérard has been warned by the incroyable, and he surprisesthem. He challenges the poet to a duel during which Chénier inflicts a seriouswound on him. Gérard generously allows his rival to escape taking hisbeloved with him before the revolutionaries can find him. When help arrives,Gérard declares that he does not know the man that has assaulted him.
Act ThreeThe Revolutionary Tribunal, first sectionFrance is under threat and the sans-culottes Mathieu asks citizens for recruitsand money to cover military expenses. His words rouse little enthusiasm,but Gérard, who has recovered from his wound, sets the crowd alightwith his patriotic speeches. Madelon, an old blind woman, gives him her onlyyoung grandson as a soldier. While outside the song of the Carmagnolecan be heard, the incroyable informs Gérard that Chénier has been arrested.Required to sign the bill of indictment, Gérard hesitates out of remorse forsuch a cowardly action, but in the end enters the name of the poet on thelist of the accused. Maddalena offers herself to him in exchange forChénier’s life; moved by her act, Gérard promises her to do all he can tohelp the young man. He retracts the charges and passionately defendsChénier in court. But this is not enough to save the poet from being sentencedto death.
Act FourThe courtyard of the prison of St LazareChénier is visited by Roucher while he is writing his last verses, which hereads to his friend. Once they have parted, Maddalena arrives: thanks to thehelp of Gérard, she has been able to obtain permission to see the prisoner.The young woman bribes the jailer into letting her take the place of anotherprisoner, a mother who has already been sentenced to death. Gérard goesto see Robespierre to beg him to spare Chénier’s life. Alone, the poet andMaddalena hearten one another and prepare to meet their destinies withdignity. At dawn they climb onto the cart of the condemned and set off,clasping each other, for the guillotine.(Traduzione di Chris Owen)