Author Topic: Adrianna Lecouvreur  (Read 1649 times)

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Offline Tsaraslondon

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Adrianna Lecouvreur
« on: February 21, 2009, 01:23:48 AM »
Discussion of this opera on the Opera-L forum (though mostly about Domingo's age and Guleghina being booed) made me get my CDs down from the shelves and give it a listen for the first time in years. I have the Levine recording, with Scotto, Domingo, Obraztsova and Milnes. Well, maybe it's because I am in the middle of a protracted Verdi listening session at the moment, but what a creakily old fashioned bunch of bunkum it seemed to be this time round. Singers and conductor make as good a case for it as anyone could imagine, notwithstanding Obraztsova's oversinging of most of her rolr, but even so, it just emerged as artificial, sentimental claptrap. It comes as no surprise then, that the only Italian opera composer from this period, whose works have maintained a place in the repertoire internationally is Puccini. Though I would not put Puccini on the same level, musically, as those other great pinnacles of opera, Mozart, Wagner and Verdi, like them, he transcends his time by breathing real life into his characters and stories. This time round Adrianna Lecouvreur seemed as outdated as an Ivor Novello operetta, or one of those old costume movies one sees from time to time on afternoon tv. Apart from one or two isolated moments (Adrianna's touchingly pathetic aria Poveri fiori is definitely one of them), the opera seems to be full of pictorial scene setting, with very little of real substance to maintain interest. Maybe that is why that, for the most part, all we hear of many of the operas of this period these days, is isolated arias on various recital discs.

That Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci both maintain their foothold on the repertoire, is no surprise. They are both mini masterpieces of the genre, but neither composer was able to recapture the form that produced them. Giordano's Andrea Chenier too maintains a tenuous hold, but this may have more to do with the role being so beloved of tenors, just as Adrianna has attracted many great sopranos. Mind, I do have a feeling, that it stands up, as a whole, rather better than Adrianna. I should give it another listen.

Having now listened to the whole opera, I admit that Cilea redeems himself somewhat in the last scene, and produces some music of real dramatic import in Adrianna's Poveri fiori and the final duet, though the melodramatic last few bars of the duet are a bit hard to take. Back on the shelves for a few more years I think.
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas


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Re: Adrianna Lecouvreur
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2009, 04:58:01 PM »
Hi there

I liked it- no great depth of course but indeed it's quite confidently written with full textures (I didnt' acquaint myself with the libretto); Catalani's La Wally is another interesting, and stronger and tougher, piece, as of course is Charpentier's remarkable Louise. I also rather admired Andrea Chenier, even though the likes of Grove criticise his music for being formulaic or whatever: it's a case of when you actually get to know it an interesting personality comes though despite the certain flatness: I'd like to try his Siberia.


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Re: Adrianna Lecouvreur
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2009, 05:17:48 PM »
While I'm at it, from this wider period, Ponchielli's La Giaconda has a lot of plain material really apart from the famous section, whereas Boito's Mephistopheles is an unusual minor masterpiece, his Nerone being almost as interesting. Busoni's Doktor Faust is another original piece of thinking of course, and I'd like to try a Pizzetti opera- his language has a fine inevitability and was promoted by Karajan indeed; there's also the American-Italian Menotti- I tried his The Consul but it's a bit musicalish and unconvincing. I also know Respighi's La Fiamma, which has passion but like much of his output isn't really memorable.

Of Dallapiccola, well his little effort isn't the worse thing I've heard and it kind-of hangs together better than some similar, but the less said the better; Berio's are at least in a richer soundworld.

I'm also a great Verdi enthusiast and bought recordings of most of the operas, including the two partial rewrites; I know them all now (heard at least five times) except Giovanni d'arco, which none of my libraries ever had.

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« Last Edit: February 27, 2009, 05:29:34 PM by Sean »