Andrea Chénier is the opera to open the new season at Teatro alla Scala on 7 December 2017. Here we present the first images of the opera which stars Yusif Eyvazov in the title role, Anna Netrebko is Maddalena di Coigny, and Luca Salsi plays Gérard.
The production is directed by Mario Martone with sets by Margherita Palli and costumes by Ursula Patzak, and the first night will be transmitted to cinemas internationally.
Andrea Chénier was Umberto Giordano’s fourth opera, and it received its world premiere at La Scala on 28 March 1896 becoming an immediate success. A year later it was presented in German in Hamburg, with Gustav Mahler conducting. Mahler was impressed by the work, which he called “one of the most impressive new operas”.
Giordano collaborated with Puccini’s librettist Luigi Illica, who knew all about libertarian passion as he’d been part of a Garibaldi brigade in his youth. To be in regular contact with his librettist, Giordano searched for accommodation in the same house in via Bramante 39, near Milan’s Monumental Cemetery. The only room available was in a gravestone storeroom, so that’s where he stayed while composing some of Andrea Chénier.
The result of their efforts was a heroic melodrama par excellence, often pushing voices towards vocal athleticism which fuelled the misunderstandings among its critics. Riccardo Chailly recalls a conversation with an elderly Maria Caniglia, who appeared on the famous recording of the opera with Gigli, who underlined the belcanto nature of much of the score.
Aside from changing fashions and various critical positions, someone who has always believed in Andrea Chénier’s worth is Chailly, who recorded it for Decca in 1982 with Luciano Pavarotti, Montserrat Caballé and Leo Nucci. He also conducted the opera’s last outing at La Scala during the 1982/83 season with José Carreras, Anna Tomowa-Sintow and Piero Cappuccilli. This production by Lamberto Puggelli was then remounted in 1985, again with Chailly conducting.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.