Back in Rome
Umberto Giordano's 'Andrea Chénier'
returns to the Teatro dell'Opera
after more than forty years,
impressing GIUSEPPE PENNISI
For decades, Andrea Chénier has been one of the most popular titles of the late nineteenth century. Normally classified as a 'verismo' opera, its premiere was in 1898 at La Scala, and thus after Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana and before Puccini's Tosca. I would think that it has greater affinity with 'Po Valley Grand Opera', a category of musical theatre who had a comparatively short period of success. After Verdi's melodrama had exhausted its role, composers and theatre managers were searching for a new style and borrowed elements from the French grand opera: historical context, sets with special effects, ballets within the opera, and great voices. In addition, a rich orchestration was borrowed from Wagner. It was a comparatively short period which flourished between Bologna and Milan. Most of the operas of the composers of this school (Franchetti, Rossi) are now seldom staged. Only La Gioconda by Ponchielli and both Andrea Chénier and Fedora by Giordano are still frequently performed. Two of the reasons are the very high production costs and the need for very special voices.
The chorus (directed by Roberto Gabbiani) sang and acted very well as one of the evening's protagonists.