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Andréas Chénier © DR Narodni Divalo

Giordano Andrea Chénier

The 02 April 2020
Národní divadlo - Praha
Program

Giordano : Andrea Chénier

2 h 30
Cast
  • Conductor
    Jan Chalupecký
    Petr Kofron
  • Director
    Michal Docekal
Details on the Performance

A gem of Italian verismo opera, Giordano’s Andrea Chénier was presented at the National Theatre in Prague in 1897, a mere year after its world premiere at La Scala in Milan, and three months following its first performance in Hamburg, conducted by Gustav Mahler. Yet since that time it has not been seen on our stage.

Owing to the torrential dramatic music and extreme emotionality, as well as the atmosphere of the story set in the time of the French Revolution, it is one of the pinnacles of the period’s opera.

The style of Andrea Chénier is markedly Italian, with its sound colour and melody akin to that of Puccini and the forcibility of the crowd scenes reminiscent of Verdi’s late operas. Also bearing witness to its being close to Puccini is the librettist, Luigi Illica, the author of the texts for La bohéme, Tosca and Madama Butterfly, who adapted for Giordano the story of the French poet André Chénier, one of the last victims of Robespierre’s Reign of Terror in 1793 and 1794. Giordano’s opera depicts the drama of a love triangle, featuring the young aristocrat Maddalena, the servant Gérard and the poet Chénier.

As a result of the revolutionary events, the initially innocent flirtation turns into a desperate and wild passion – the persecuted Maddalena writes secret love letters to Chénier; Gérard, who has become a major representative of the Jacobin regime, abuses his power for his personal interest in Maddalena; while the dreamer Chénier, the omnipresent Terror notwithstanding, keeps believing in liberty, inspiration and love.

Yet love amidst a revolution is a dangerous matter indeed. The production is conducted by the Artistic Director of the National Theatre Opera, Petr Kofroň, and directed by Michal Dočekal.

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Národní divadlo - Praha Location Národní 2 - 110 00 Praha République Tchèque

  • Venue's Capacity: 988

The Venue's History in few words …

The recommended dress code is evening casual, men are advised to wear long trousers and closed shoes and elegant dress for women.

 

With the Czech artistic renaissance of the nineteenth century, the need for a theatre specialized in the national repertoire was increasingly felt.

 

The Czechs first obtained the authorisation (not without some reserve on the part of the Austrian administration) to open a temporary theatre in 1862, under Smetana's direction.

 

A veritable National Theatre, the actual Národní divadlo was opened in 1881. Fire burnt it down during the same year; in 1883 a new theatre was inaugurated with the performance of LIBUSE, composed for the occasion by Smetana.

 

The same work was performed a century later, when the house reopened after restoration.

The theatre, which still today programmes an essentially Czech repertoire, of course premiered works by Dvorak, Janacek and Martinu.

Today it presents top class performances and productions of works by Czech and foreign composers.

Národní divadlo

Synopsis

Andrea Chénier

ANDREA CHENIER, A POPULAR OPERA

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.

HISTORY

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.

MAIN ROLES

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

Národní divadlo

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