[Met Performance] CID:315560
Adriana Lecouvreur {60} Metropolitan Opera House: 03/3/1994.

(Debuts: Annemarie Lucania, Roberto Abbado
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
March 3, 1994


ADRIANA LECOUVREUR {60}
Cilèa-Colautti

Adriana Lecouvreur......Mirella Freni
Maurizio................Luis Lima
Princess di Bouillon....Stefania Toczyska
Michonnet...............Sherrill Milnes
Bouillon................James Courtney
Abbé....................Bernard Fitch
Jouvenot................Yvonne Gonzales Redman
Dangeville..............Jane Shaulis
Poisson.................Tony Stevenson
Quinault................Kevin Short
Major-domo..............Mitchell Sendrowitz
Dance...................Joseph Fritz
Dance...................Annemarie Lucania [Debut]
Dance...................Victoria Rinaldi
Dance...................Rachel Schuette

Conductor...............Roberto Abbado [Debut]

Production..............Nathaniel Merrill
Stage Director..........Lesley Koenig
Set designer............Camillo Parravicini
Set designer............Carlo Maria Cristini
Costume designer........Ray Diffen
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler
Choreographer...........Robert LaFosse [Debut]

Adriana Lecouvreur received seven performances this season.

Revival a gift of Edith C. Blum Foundation

[The production was designed by Carlo Maria Cristini after sketches by Camillo Parravicini.]

Review of Peter Goodman in Newsday

Freni's Passion Drives 'Adriana'

The very genesis of opera itself is re-created unexpectedly in "Adriana Lecouvreur," Francesco Cilea's one big hit and a work that is mostly used as a vehicle for prima donnas and gran tennores. The moment comes at the climax of Act III when Adriana, an actress, in a barely veiled attack on her rival in love, the Princess de Bouillon, recites a passage from Racine's play "Phedre" denouncing adultery and sin. It begins as a dramatic recitation with orchestral accompaniment. But Adriana's passion rises. Her anguish, jealousy and anger can no longer be fully expressed by mere speech - and suddenly the actress erupts into song. When done properly - see Mirella Freni's portrayal, currently at the Metropolitan Opera - it is an episode of power and insight. Opera begins when theater explodes.

"Adriana Lecouvreur" was once a treasured vehicle for vocal display, attracting such stars as Renata Tebaldi, Magda Olivero and Montserrat Caballe to the title role. Enrico Caruso and Lina Cavalieri sang in the 1907 Met premiere and the opera was the vehicle for Placido Domingo's Met debut in 1968. But it is now an opera that comes and goes; before Thursday night, the last Met performances were during the 1982-83 season with Renate Scotto and Neil Shicoff. Premiered in 1902, it is a smoothly written work with attractive, if generally unmemorable music, and a soap-opera plot, similar in content and even in shape of melody to Puccini, but not as powerful.

It demands a genuine star in the title role and works best when there are performers of equal caliber elsewhere in the cast. Freni is just such a star and Thursday's performance was one of the high marks of this Met season. Freni's Adriana was a magnificent creature, a grand actress full of fire and jealousy, yet tenderly vulnerable and eager for love, Tosca's sister in everyway. Freni's performance offered lessons in vocalism and acting from her first moments onstage. Emotions flew across her face, were projected by her voice and supported by her bearing at every moment. Her voice was rich, varied and flexible, capable of careful expression and spontaneous eruption.

Mezzo-soprano Stefania Toczyska's Princess de Bouillon was proud, stiff and arrogant, without a trace of love in her makeup. Her voice was large and penetrating, its bottom register grainy and unattractive; she was an altogether daunting personage, quite capable of murdering a rival with poisoned violets. But would either of them have really fought over the love of Maurizio, the Count of Savoy, as portrayed by Luis Lima? He has an even, well-produced voice but no hint of the charisma or resonance demanded by the role. It's a sobering commentary on the state of the Met today that it could not find a stronger tenor to be the apex of this love triangle.

Sherrill Milnes, solid and powerful except when he had to push for volume in the middle and upper range, made a sturdy Michonnet, the stage manager whose love for Adriana goes unrequited. In his company debut, conductor Roberto Abbado (Claudio's nephew) had a supple and sensitive touch on the orchestra. Choreographer Robert LaFosse, also in his Met debut, created a straightforward, graceful ballet for Act III. James Courtney and Bernard Fitch made an engaging pair as the Prince, smug and stupid, and the Abbe, fussy and annoying. This production, at 31 years one of the oldest in the Met repertoire, looks its age but provides ample, rational space for the opera.



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