Umberto Giordano: Andrea Chénier
Yusif Eyvazov (Andrea Chénier), Anna Netrebko (Maddalena di Coigny), Luca Salzi (Carlo Gérard), Annalisa Stroppa (La mulatta Bersi), Mariana Pentcheva (La Contessa di Coigny), Judit Kutasi (Manon), Gabriele Sagona (Roucher), Costantino Finucci (Pietro Fléville),Carlo Bosi (Un Incredibile), Gianluca Breda (Fouquier-Tinville), Francesco Verna (Populus), Manuel Pieratelli (L’Abate), Romano Dal Zovo (Schmidt), Riccardo Fassi (Il maestro di casa/Dumas), Chorus of Teatro alla Scala, Bruno Casoni (chorus master), Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala, Riccardo Chailly (conductor), Mario Martone (stage director), Margherita Palli (set designer), Ursula Patzak (costume designer), Pasquale Mari (lighting designer), Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala, Frédéric Olivieri (director), Daniela Schiavone (choreography), Patrizia Carmine (video director)
Recorded live at Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Italy (2017) – 128’
C Major 757308 (or Blu-ray 757404) – Sound Formats: Opera PCM Stereo, DTS-HD MA 5.1 – Picture Format: 1080i, 16:9 – Region 0 (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Booklet in English, German and French – Subtitles in Italian, English, French, German, Korean and Japanese
With such a grim historical background, stage director Mario Martone smartly stays within the well-defined historical frame of the abominable Terreur period of the French Revolution, and away from any reckless re-reading of the story. Hence a quite traditional aesthetics (including a few minor anachronistic slips and historical inaccuracies), with a visually superb first act, chilling depictions of the Revolutionary Tribunal and the heinous crowd watching Maddalena and Chénier ascend the steps to the guillotine.
Lavish costumes by Ursula Patzak, made out of shimmering, moiré fabrics for Act I, are exquisitely tasteful.
The revolving stage makes for seamless transitions between acts, with no interruption of the music and crossfade mode, even after arias, thus preventing all infamous loggionisti seated in the upper tiers from voicing their discontent. Video director Patrizia Carmine introduces some interesting shots from a video camera placed in the flies, perhaps foreshadowing the downfall of nobility.
Despite a tense “Un dì all’azuro spazio...” in Act I, Azerbaijani tenor Yusif Eyvazov in the title role weaves his way through the cruelties of the score as the opera progresses. The delivery of “Credo a una possanza arcana” in Act II, and the “Vicino a te...” of the final scene are sincerely moving. This tenor possesses the required bravura for this daunting role, with an appealing Italianate singing. However, he fails to portray Chénier’s gravity. Anna Netrebko is a compelling Maddalena di Coigny. The voice easily goes from light-heartedness in the first act, to a poignant “La mamma morte...” and an intensely dramatic final duet. Her Maddalena di Coigny is radiant and musically impeccable. Luca Salzi is an impressive Gérard, in the tradition of great Italian baritones. His “Nemico della patria...” is one of the best moments of this recording.
Supporting roles are numerous in this opera and all beautifully held. From Annalisa Stroppa’s dynamic Bersi, to Carlo Bosi’s flamboyant Inc’oyable; from the full-flavored portrayal of Contessa di Coigny by Mariana Pontcheva to the fiendish Fouquier-Tinville of Gianluca Breda, all show distinction and appropriate style.
Riccardo Chailly displays vigor; his reading of the score is urgent, dramatic and incisive while keeping lachrymose outpourings under control. The splendid Scala orchestra responds accordingly.
A good addition to all DVD collectors of Andrea Chénier.