Adriana Lecouvreur at the Royal Opera House
This was the main operatic success of the composer, Francesco Cilea. He has given us wonderful orchestration and at times a rather long drawn out melody, but it is not a score of gripping intensity or passion, despite the story of the celebrated Parisian actress who’s love for the handsome Count is met by a rival who eventually kills her with poison.
This performance, although musically sound, sadly never caught fire. David McVicar’s production was well revived by Justin Way and provides large period sets in a Baroque style for the action. It all has a rather old fashioned glamorous appeal and is well conducted by Daniel Oren. He provides great care and attention to the score and support for the singers, but perhaps this is at the expense of more ruthless pace, which the evening at times desperately required. He was blessed with a fine cast of singers, led by the wonderful Angela Gheorghiu as Adriana, who preserved her voice sufficiently to ensure that she could make the most of her death scene in the final act. It is 25 years since her debut and her agile voice provided a broad range of subtlety and expression, which she delivered with ease without having to match the heft provided by her colleagues. Her Count, the Maurizio of the American tenor, Brian Jagde, who has taken over the revival of the role from Jonas Kaufman and has a hard act to follow, started slowly, but showed us by the end of the performance a firm and muscular tenor sound with considerable weight. The rival for his love, the Princess de Bouillon, was sung by the Uzbekistan mezzo soprano, Ksenia Dudnikova, who gave a promisingly dark performance, without the great vocal heft that was sometimes required for this role. Adriana’s other love (although she doesn’t know it) is Michonnet, the stage manager, who was sung by the great British baritone, Gerald Finley, who has such an eloquent baritone sound. Although he struggled somewhat in the first act (is this the ideal role for him?) he had settled down by act 4. The rest of the roles were adequately sung.
Perhaps the score doesn’t allow this opera ever to catch fire as the composer seemed to hesitate on scoring its very big moments, but did that matter when Gheorghiu gave us a masterclass in the subtleties of singing.
With kind regards,
Tuesday, 7 February 2017