Adriana Lecouvreur

Francesco Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur opera to libretto by Arturo Colautti. Directed 2010 by David McVicar at the Royal Opera House. Stars Angela Gheorghiu (Adriana Lecouvreur), Jonas Kaufmann (Maurizio), Olga Borodina (Princese de Bouillon), Alessandro Corbelli (MIchonnet), Iain Paton (Poisson), David Soar (Quinault), Janis Kelly (Mlle Jouvenot), Sarah Castle (Mlle Dangeville), Maurizio Muraro (Prince de Bouillon), Bonaventura Bottone (Abbé de Chazeuil), Barbara Rhodes (Mlle Duclos), Abramo Ciullo, Keiko Hewitt-Teale, , Kenneth Bryers, Adam Pudney, Nadia Sadiq, Paul Wood, Trevor Goldstein, Rachel Maybank, Lucy Burns, and Irene Hardy. Sir Mark Elder conducts the Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Chorus Director Renato Balsadonna; Concert Master Peter Manning). Set design by Charles Edwards; costume design by Brigitte Reiffenstuel; lighting design by Adam Silverman; choreography and movement by Andrew George. Released in 2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. The TV director and producer was François Roussillon; director of photography was Cécile Trelluyer; video editor was Phillipe Leclaire; sound supervisor was Jean Chatauret; executive producer was Toni Hajal.  Grade: A

The Royal Opera House went all out to make this new revival a hit with a great cast and top-notch artists in every production department. For us video lovers, the clincher was the appointment of François Roussillon as TV director. If there is any name in fine-arts video that amounts to a seal of approval, it would be Roussillon, a chap who apparently just doesn't work on something unless he knows it will be great. This title was a big hit with the L'OperaDou Jury, who saw it on June 30. They gave it an "A," which is rare accolade from that august, passionate, and ever-so-demanding group. Gordon Smith, the judge who gives the jury their charges, gleefully approved the verdict.  Smith and his jury are not the only enthusiasts. Right now, this  Adriana Lecouvreur is the top video seller with MDT, an elite vendor of fine-arts recordings in England.  (Of the top five Blu-ray titles MDT is selling mid-July 2012, three are François Roussillon projects!)

According to The Grove Book of Operas, Adriana Lecouvreur stays in the repertory "mainly due to the opportunities it affords to an experienced prima donna who has already passed her prime." How does that strike you for faint praise? There are about 6 DVDs and one other Blu-ray version of subject title available. It would seem that this opera is immune to updating and has always been produced as a lavish consume orgy rooted in pre-revolutionary France. But it is in fact a 20th-century work. It was born 1904 between Tosca (1900) and Madama Butterfly (1906) and offers a more modern style than you might expect. (I do not intend here to suggest that Gheoghiu has aged out.)

My point is that this is a relatively obscure work that few opera fans alive today have probably seen live or even enjoyed via recordings. But thru the magic of HDVD, the ROH now shows how good this opera can be. They have a chance to reach an audience larger than anything the opera promoters of the past could have dreamed of. Has there ever been a better time than now to be an opera lover?

Update

on 2012-07-22 20:46 by Henry McFadyen Jr.

Eric Myers, writing in the August 2012 Opera News (page 59) says that this Adriana Lecouvreur "makes the best possible case for Cilèa's frequently maligned opera." What more could you say?

Update

on 2013-01-07 16:37 by Henry McFadyen Jr.

In the January, 2013 Opera News (page 59) this Adriana Lecouvreur was praised as a "2012 Favorite" title.