Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall
One night only
The life and soul of the world is love!
Andrea Chénier is in danger of losing his head. As France cowers under the Reign of Terror, the poet is falling madly, passionately in love.
A gripping story based on true events unfolds swiftly in Giordano’s famous opera, beloved by audiences and performers for its magnificent arias, tender love story and dramatic music.
A poet, a philosopher and defender of the poor, Chénier believes in the ideals of his revolutionary brothers: Liberty! Equality! Fraternity! Now the revolution is over, but La Guillotine hasn’t lost her taste for blood. The revolutionaries, once so idealistic, are turning on their own to keep her fed.
Superstar tenor Jonas Kaufmann returns to Australia in one of his most celebrated roles. A concert performance of Andrea Chénier offers the perfect showcase for his “dark, liquid tone, which soars through the music with refined ease and intensity” (The Guardian). A stellar supporting cast includes Ludovic Tézier, one of the world’s greatest baritones, and Eva-Maria Westbroek as Chénier’s lover, Maddalena, who sings the heartbreaking ‘La mamma morta’.
Released from the orchestra pit, and onto the stage of Hamer Hall, you’ll hear the Opera Australia Orchestra in all their glory, led by renowned conductor Pinchas Steinberg.
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|The Incredible||Benjamin Rasheed|
|Contessa di Coigny||Dominica Matthews|
Running time: approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes, including one interval.
As the French Revolution settles, the poet Andrea Chenier watches its leaders grow more and more oppressive.
Despite his wealthy upbringing, he speaks out on behalf of the poor, and attracts the attention of powerful revolutionaries.
But it is Chenier’s love for the aristocrat Maddalena that puts him most at risk. Her family’s servant, Gerard, is also in love with Maddalena, and he uses his power among the revolutionaries to take his rival down.
The Ballroom of the Château Coigny
Preparations are underway for a ball, viewed with disgust by the servant Gérard. He speaks violently against the idleness and cruelty of the aristocracy. While the Countess oversees the final details, Maddalena enters with her governess, Bersi. The guests begin to arrive; Fléville, the novelist, presents two promising young artists, the Italian musician Fiorinelli and the poet Andrea Chénier. They are joined by the Abbot, who brings news from Paris about the stirrings of the Third Estate.
Much to the disgust and amusement of the guests, Gérard has engaged a group of impoverished women to perform the shepherdess’ pastoral. The Countess asks Chénier to recite a poem, but he refuses saying that his muse cannot always be conjured up. After being goaded by Maddalena, he finally consents. His love, he says, is for France, whose peasants are suffering while its clergy grows fat. The Countess and her guests are offended by Chénier’s words and he storms out. The festivities are further interrupted by Gérard giving entrance to a crowd of beggars. Furious, the Countess orders them out of the house but Gérard has already encouraged the servants of the house and the beggars to revolt and the party is thrown into chaos.
A Café, by the Pont de Peronnet, after the Revolution
A few years have passed. Mathieu is found dusting the statue of the Revolutionary hero Marat. Bersi, now a prostitute, arrives with the Incredibile whom she suspects of spying on her as an enemy of the new system. She bursts out in praise of freedom and revolution. The Incredibile is not convinced since he has noticed her looking at Chénier, whom he advises to leave France with all speed. Chénier consents reluctantly. A crowd gathers to watch the People’s Representatives crossing the bridge. Upon the arrival of Gérard, now a respected leader of the Revolution, the Incredibile draws him aside. From their conversation it is clear that Gérard is in amorous pursuit of Maddalena. The Incredibile promises to bring her to him that evening. Maddalena has arranged to meet Chénier and asks for his protection. The Incredibile, who has been spying on them, goes off to summon Gérard. He appears and the two men fight. Although wounded, Gérard does not reveal the name of his assailant and Chénier and Maddalena are able to escape.
The Hall of the Revolutionary Tribunal
To an assembled audience Mathieu declares that the country is in danger, threatened by the rebellion from within and invasion from foreign powers. Gérard enters, receiving congratulations on his recovery, and continues Mathieu’s speech, rallying support for the cause of France. Stirred by Gérard’s rhetoric, an old blind women gives up her young grandson to the Army. Newspaper vendors proclaim the arrest of Andrea Chénier. The Incredibile assures Gérard that this will draw Maddalena into the trap and entices him to write a false indictment against Chénier. Maddalena is soon brought before him. To her surprise, Gérard does not hesitate to declare his desire for her. She replies by recounting her miserable existence since the Revolution. Nonetheless she is prepared to yield to Gérard if she can thereby save Chénier’s life. Gérard now promises to attempt to save Chénier.
The court assembles and the accused are led in, among them Chénier. Fouquier-Tinville lists the charges against him. Chénier stoutly defends himself as a patriot and a man of honour. Fouquier-Tinville calls for witnesses. Gérard proclaims that all the accusations he brought against his rival are false. The court is astonished, but resolved nonetheless on Chénier’s execution.
A Cell in St Lazare Prison
Chénier sits writing. His past life and friends are parading in front of his feverish mind. The gaoler, Schmidt, keeps watch as Chénier reads his final poem. Maddalena appears to accompany her lover to the guillotine.