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Andrea Chenier © Bettina Stöss

Giordano Andrea Chénier

From 11 January TO 21 January 2020
Deutsche Oper - Berlin

Giordano : Andrea Chénier

2 h 30 with 1 interval
  • Conductor
    Roberto Rizzi Brignoli
  • Director
    John Dew
  • Performers
    Andrea Chénier: Martin Muehle
    Maddalena di Coigny: Anja Harteros
    Carlo Gérard: Roman Burdenko
    La Mulatta Bersi: Vasilisa Berzhanskaya
    Madelon: Ronnita Miller
Details on the Performance

It is the summer of 1789. A festivity is being prepared in the castle of Countess de Coigny. Charles Gérard, a servant of the Countess´ voices his hatred of the French aristrocracy´s decadence. His aged Father is forced to labour all day long and Gérard himself leads the undignified life of a lackey. Moreover, he is secretly and unhappily in love with Madeleine de Coigny, the daughter of the House with whom he was raised. The political situation is very tense. When the visitors attending the ball finally arrive, they try to distract themselves from the disquieting news from Paris with the help of arcadian idylls and games. The young poet André Chénier is among the guests. Madeleine requests him to recite a poem. He sings of love and laments the injustice of the powers that be in such a convincing manner that Madeleine is deeply moved and forced to quit the room. The doors are suddely opened and a mob of irate people led by Gérard shocks the ball guests. However, the Countess manages to pacify and disperse the mob. The dancing continues. 

It is five years later and nobody is dancing. Paris trembles under the regime of Robespierre. Gérard has been elected prosecutor at the revolutionary tribunal, the impoverished Madeleine lives in Paris, supported by Bersi, her former maid, who now works as a courtesan. Chenier is being persecuted due to his poems against Robespierre´s regime of terror. Although his friend Roucher entreats him to leave Paris, he refuses as he has fallen in love with an unknown woman who secretly corresponds through letters. The unknown woman is no other than Madeleine. When the two meet and confess their feelings during a nocturnal rendez-vous, they are surprised by Gérard who has been looking for Madeleine with the help of his spies. Gérard and Chénier fight and Gérard is wounded. Gérard implores his rival to flee with Madeleine and guard her safety. At a revolutionary tribunal meeting he later signs the prosecution warrant against Chénier, whom he considers to be doomed already. Madeleine attempts to save her lover and offers herself to Gérard who is deeply moved by her love. He vows to defend the poet before the tribunal, but it is in vain. Chénier is sentenced to death. On the eve of his execution Madeleine manages to enter the prison with the help of Gérard. She bribes a guard and takes the place of another condemned woman. United, the lovers await death. 

Although Umberto Giordano´s ANDREA CHENIER was rarely performed, the opera belongs to the most impressive works representing the so-called »verismo«, a characteristic of the Italian Opera that emphasized naturalistic elements not only in the choice of subject, but also in the musical execution. Pietro Mascagni was the most articulate representative of this movement. His one act opera CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA had won the first prize in the opera competition initiated by publisher Edoardo Sonzogno and subsequently made him famous. Important »verismo« characteristics are also to be found in Giordano´s Revolution Opera, such as the musical deployment of historical dances and marches from the era predating the French Revolution. Famous revolutionary tunes, such as »Ça ira«, the Carmagnole or the Marseillaise, are also noticeable, either as musical hints, or even directly quoted in central parts of the work. 
The main protagonist, the poet André Chénier has been cast true to the historical character, and the atmosphere of the French Revolution with its alterations between terror and pathos has been very effectively recreated for theatre. The story in which the poet, Gérard and Madeleine find themselves entangled is rendered all the more poignant against this backdrop.

Source © Deutsche Oper Berlin

  • Venue Info
  • Seating Plan
  • Synopsis

Deutsche Oper - Berlin Location Bismarckstrasse 35 - 10627 Berlin Allemagne

  • Venue's Capacity: 1859

The Venue's History in few words …

Contrary to the Staatsoper Unter den Linden which was founded in the eighteenth century in the centre of town and for a long time considered the Royal Opera, the history of the Berlin Opera began in 1912, in the Charlottenburg neighborhood situated outside the city limits, and intitiated by the rich bourgeoisie. But the inevitable occured, following the economic crisis of World War I, and the Charlottenburg Opera was ultimately purchased by the City of Berlin.

Bruno Walter greatly improved the musical qualities of this institution which was rebaptized the Städtische Oper (City Opera). Prior to that, Carl Ebert, as administrator (with Rudolf Bing, the future legendary director of the MET in New York, as assistant), promoted more modern music, including those operas by Kurt Weill or Schreker which Klemperer could no longer perform at the then-closed Kr oll-Oper, and which provoked the ire of the Nazis as early as 1933. In 1945, the building was left in ruins, but by the month of August 45, the company presented FIDELIO at the « Theater des Westerns » and animated that theatre until 1961. During this period, the conductor Ferenc Fricsay, named music director, enabled the Städtische Oper to regain its international ranking, alternating standard repertoire in top-quality productions (where voices such as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau or Josef Greindl were discovered), works by Stravinsky and Hindemith (who were banned by the Nazis), and world premieres. But in 1955, the Opera Unter den Linden, situated in East Germany, reopened under the name of the Deutsche Staatsoper. Under the influence of this politico-artistic competition, three decisions were made : the Städtische Oper was rebaptized the Deutsche Oper Berlin, plans were made to construct a theatre at the Charlottenburg site (situated in West Berlin), and Carl Ebert who, in the mean­time founded the Glyndebourne Festival, was called back. His productions and season programmes turned West Berlin into one of contemporary opera's main capitals.

Deutsche Oper

The seating plan is given as an indication and has no contractual value.
The division of categories may differ depending on shows and dates.


Andrea Chénier


A verisimo opera in four acts by Italian composer Umberto Giordano and sung to a libretto by Luigi Illica, the story is based on the real life of a French poet, Andrea Chénier who was executed in the days of the French Revolution. Though not performed as often now, the opera remains a highly popular work with audiences who enjoy the dramatic music and lyrics written by Giordano for the leading tenor. A wonderful chance for singers to show off their exceptional vocal skills, the tenor Giuseppe Borgatti was catapulted to the top echelon of Italian opera singers thanks to his magnificent portrayal of the role.


Set in and around Paris in the period 1789-94, the opera is based on the life of a popular poet at the time of the French Revolution. Chénier is increasingly affected by the suffering of the poor in the turbulent society of his times, and comes under scrutiny. Maddalena the daughter of the Countess is known as 'Speranza' or hope, she pleads for Chénier's life after he is trapped and arrested, but to no avail. Although Gérard admits that he had Chénier accused because he too is in love with Maddalena, Robespierre refuses to pardon him. Maddalena changes places with an imprisoned noblewoman and goes to the guillotine in her place at Chénier's side.

Act 1

At a ball at the home of the Countess of Coigny, Chénier meets her daughter Maddalena after she gets him to recite poetry containing the word 'love' as a bet. Chénier becomes enraged and sings of the suffering of the poor. He appears with a crowd of beggars asking for food, and the Countess has him removed, comforting herself with thoughts of her gifts to charity.

Act 2

Now a merveilleuse, Bersi who was Maddalena's former serving girl chats with an Incroyable, or spy in a cafe in Paris. She jokes that she has nothing to hide. The Incroyable sees a blonde lady and notes that Chénier was seated at a nearby table. Robespierre passes with a former servant, Gérard who comes into the cafe in search of the blonde. The Incroyable tell him that she will return to the cafe that night. A hooded woman enters the cafe. It is Maddalena, known now as 'Speranza' or hope. Gérard accosts them and wounds Chénier in a sword fight.

Act 3

The Revolutionary Tribunal find Chénier guilty. Maddalena cries for justice, telling how the mob has burned down her mothers palace and left it in ruins.
Gérard's admits that it was he who had Chénier arrested to clear the way to Maddalena who he has always loved. Maddalena tries to give herself to Gérard in return for Chénier's life. Despite trying to take back his accusations, Gérard can not save Chénier and he is sentenced to death.

Act 4

Gérard's pleas for justice fall on deaf ears and Robespierre refuses to pardon the poet Chénier. Maddalena exchanges places with a condemned noblewoman and goes to the guillotine with Chénier in her place.


Andrea Chénier - popular poet - tenor
Carlo Gérard - servant - baritone
Maddalena de Coigny - soprano
Bersi - maid to Maddalena - mezzo-soprano
The Incredible - a spy for Robespierre - tenor

Deutsche Oper

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