The 2018-2019 season of the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series continues with Francesco Cilea’s opera “Adriana Lecouvreur” at 10:55 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center.
“Adriana Lecouvreur” is one of the two operas this season that are completely new Met productions and is predicted to be the best of the season. The story is a pseudo-historical tale of a real-life French actress of the same name who dazzled 18th century audiences with her on-and-offstage passion.
It is four acts awash in false identifies, dangerous liaisons, even poisoned violets — but underneath the foolish, convoluted plot (with some light editing) it could be a comedy — and a tragic tale of a love triangle gone bad.
Sir David McVicar staged this sumptuous production and set it in Paris 1730 in a nod to the Rococo era that swept Europe around 1902 when this opera debuted. Quintessential Russian diva Anna Netrebko sings the title role, with tenor star Piotr Beczala as her lover.
The fabulous actress Adrienne Lecouvreur radically changed the way acting was done. Before her, actresses were more declamatory and “sing-song” in their speech patterns; Lecouvreur changed that with her natural, true-to-life delivery. She was a sensation at the time and her romance with Maurice, the Count of Saxony, added to her celebrity. Her sudden death in 1730 officially remains a mystery.
Set director Charles Edwards uses a revolving “stage within a stage” to let viewers peek backstage, then the set revolves to the theatrical action from the front of the stage.
The score features melodic arias and an elegant score that showcases the singers. The Act 3 dance sequences come straight from French opera, convincing us that this opera is all about France, despite its Italian composer and librettist.
The outstanding Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda’s energetic conducting elevates Cilea’s score from merely sweet-smelling to stylishly substantial.
Sung in Italian, the total run time is 3 hours 33 minutes, including two intermissions.
Adriana Lecouvreur is sung by Russian diva soprano Anna Netrebko, who gives a performance for the ages. Her arias right from Act 1 through Act 4 are some of the best-loved in the soprano repertoire,
Maurizio, the Count of Saxony is sung by Polish tenor Piotr Beczala.
The Princess of Bouillon is sung by the rising mezzo star from country of Georgia, Anita Rachvelishvili.