Jonas Kaufmann brings down the house in this sumptuous period production from Covent Garden.
Umberto Giordano (1867-1948), Andrea Chénier
Live at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Jonas Kaufmann, Eva-Maria Westbroek, Željko Lučić
The Royal Opera, Royal Opera Chorus, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Antonio Pappano (conductor)
David McVicar (director)
Recommended by Forsyth for Christmas 2016:
Once the realm of gods and royalty, opera expanded its range towards the end of the 19th century to concern itself more closely with the real lives of men and women of the present and recent past. Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana of 1890 is usually considered the first such ‘verismo’ opera, and Puccini’s Tosca (1900) the most famous, but Andrea Chénier by Umberto Giordano (1867-1948) has remained popular since its premiere at La Scala, Milan, in 1896, thanks largely to its extraordinary – and demanding – leading tenor role.
Jonas Kaufmann rises to the challenge magnificently. As The Independent reports, he “brings down the house with the sheer beauty of his singing”, while The Guardian finds “it’s hard to imagine him bettered” as André Chénier (1762-1794), the Greco-French poet who supported the ideals of the French Revolution but was ultimately executed for criticising the Jacobins’ ruthless practices.
Meanwhile, director David McVicar’s production is a welcome return to classic Covent Garden values, one which both respects the work’s historical setting (meticulously realised) and trusts in the power of the music and musicians to communicate effectively without grafting on extraneous ideological or choreographic distractions. This newly-released DVD perfectly captures the drama of the 2015 Royal Opera House run in high definition and surround sound.