Andrea Chénier

Marcelo Álvarez interprets the revolutionary (French) poet

Teatro Regio, Tuesday 15th January 2013 at 20:00

Andrea Chénier, "a tragedy of historic environment", an opera by Umberto Giordano, is back, after ten years, at the Teatro Regio from the 15th to 30th January 2013 with the settings signed by director Lamberto Puggelli. For the occasion, Renato Palumbo, acclaimed by critics and audiences as an impeccable opera conductor, will be on the podium of the Orchestra and Chorus Teatro Regio Torino after having finished the last Season with Un Ballo in Maschera.

The settings, originally designed for the Theatre Carlo Felice in Genova, has been completely revised and redone by the setting laboratories of the Teatro Regio, becoming then part of the shows known as "made in Regio" dedicated to different operas repertoire which are simple but at the same time of great effect. The setting which is accurate and faithful to the text, as well as intelligently done is signed by a master of Italian theatre, Lamberto Puggelli. In this edition, the direction is by Salvo Piro, the scenes are Paulo Bregni, costumes by Luisa Spinatelli, a long-lasting collaborator of Puggelli and lights are by Bruno Ciulli.

The actors on the stage of the Teatro Regio are: Marcelo Álvarez, Alberto Mastromarino and María José Siri.

Although Umberto Giordano died rich and famous in 1948, nobody would have bet the success that Andrea Chénier had on its Premiere evening on 28th March 1896. Giordano entered the ranks of musicians so called ‘Sonzogno’, in 1890, and was swept by the strong sense of realism left after the debut of Mala Vita in Rome. The opera gained many supporters, but his second trial, Regina Diaz, was a fiasco. The publisher then decided to give the composer a final chance before stopping his monthly payments: if Andrea Chénier had failed to succeed, Giordano would have changed his job. Anxious about his future, the musician began working on the opera based on the French poet André Chénier whose centenary of death was in 1894. His librettist, the well-established Luigi Illica, prepared a very well documented text. The poet said: «Chénier is a long piece of historical research». The booklet turned out to be very long due to the richness of details regarding both French fashion and culture during the revolutionary period. The composer had to, therefore, shorten it in order to make the whole opera more fluid. Giordano used ideas from the text itself to insert sound effects designed to create an accurate historical background where the love story of the protagonists took place. Revolutionary songs such as Ça ira!, the Carmagnola and the Marseillaise are played in the background to connect the different scenes as well as putting the main action into perspective. The secret of Giordano’s success was in his ability to keep the listener’s attention through continuous tension: to achieve this, the songs do not proceed linearly but they happen like melodic waves of great intensity creating a strong dramatic effect. The orchestra has a very important role because it amplifies the actions of the characters and the action on stage creating a sense of continuity between episodes.

The opera is divided into four acts: the first is a prologue introducing the situations, either historical or sentimental, which will, eventually, unleash the tragedy. The first scene is set in 1789, during the French Revolution, at the castle of the Counts of Coigny. Here the footman Gérard oversees, although reluctantly, the preparations for a party. Being a footman is for him unbearable but his bitterness soon disappears at the mere sight of the daughter of the Countess, Maddalena, with whom he was in love. The guests soon arrived and Andrea Chénier, a poet and revolutionary, is one of them. Teased by Maddalena, Chénier sings praise to the country and that deeply touches the girl. Gérard, inspired by the poet, allows a crowd of common people to enter the party and then he throws his own livery.
The other acts are held in 1794, during the Reign of Terror, in Paris, where Robespierre’s spies roam freely. One of these follows the counterrevolutionary, Chénier to bring him to justice and at the same tries to take Maddalena to Gérard, who has become a member of the revolution. Chénier should flee, but the desire to know the mysterious woman who writes desperate letters to him prevents him from escaping. One night she reveals herself: she is Maddalena, who had long been in love with the poet but was persecuted because of her nobility. Their meeting is interrupted by the arrival of Gérard, who forced the lovers to escape. Then Chénier is captured and Gérard writes a letter containing heavy accusations to conduct his rival in love to the guillotine. Maddalena offers her own body to Gérard in order to save the poet, but he, moved by her action, tries to help Chénier, but it was by then too late and every negotiation bears no fruit. Chénier is then sentenced to death. In the end, thanks to Gerard’s help, Maddalena meets Chénier, and they both face death together.

Marcelo Álvarez, the acclaimed Argentinean tenor who has often been acclaimed for the intensity of the roles in which he plays, will play the poet Chénier. The antagonist, Gérard, will be the baritone Alberto Mastromarino, a specialised singer not only in the repertoire of Verdi, but also in the realistic operas, contributing to the rediscovery of opera which are poorly represented. The beautiful Maddalena is played by the Uruguayan soprano María José Siri (instead of Micaela Carosi, who had to had to step down due to health problems). María José Siri starred in Tosca at the Regio one year ago.

Rounding out the cast: Giovanna Lanza (Bersi), Chiara Fracasso (The Countess and Madelon), Gabriele Sagona (Roucher), Federico Longhi (Mathieu), Gianluca Floris (Incredible), Matteo Peirone (Fléville), Scott Johnson (Fouquier Tinville), Luca Casalin (The abbot), Franco Rizzo and Marco Tognozzi (Dumas), Gheorghe Valentin Nistor and Vladimir Jurlin (The master of the house).

The Director of the Chorus is Claudio Fenoglio.

During the nine performances the following names will alternate in the title roles: Gustavo Porta (Andrea Chénier), Silvio Zanon (Gérard) and Chiara Taigi (Maddalena).

Andrea Chénier will be presented to the public by Giovanni Gavazzeni at the Encounter with the Opera to be held at the Piccolo Regio Puccini on Wednesday, 9th January at 17:30.

Please note, that on Wednesday, 23rd January at 15:30 in the Sala Caminetto of Teatro Regio there will be a conference entitled: Andrea Chénier and the French Revolution. This conference is in collaboration with the University of Turin (Department of Political Studies), and the following speakers will intervene: Neoclassical poet Chénier by Lionello Sozzi, Chénier between history and the artistic creation by Mario Tesini, The Theatre of the Revolution by Chiara Bongiovanni, Justice Revolution by Pier Paolo Portinaro as well as poetry readings from the work of André Chénier.

The live broadcast on RAI-Radio3 will take place on Wednesday 23rd January at 20:00.

Teatro Regio Box Office: piazza Castello 215 - Tel 011.8815.241/242 - e-mail: biglietteria@teatroregio.torino.it. For more information call: 011.8815.557 or go to www.teatroregio.torino.it.

Turin 18th December 2012

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