The time represented is during the French Revolution. In the Ball room of the Chateau of the Countess de Coigny, Gerard, a servant is resenting the restraint which is placed upon him. He is a revolutionary, and has fallen deeply in love with Madeleine, the daughter of the Countess. Madeleine, too, is weary of the life which she lives in her fashionable and luxurious home. As the Ball progresses, Andrea Chenier and his friend the Abbe enter with other guests. Chenier is a brilliant young poet, the Abbe is a well known author. Madeleine, laughingly, asks the poet to compose for her - on the spot - a poem " Love". He, anxious to rouse the more serious side of her nature, does so. He sings of the wrongs and sufferings of the poor; the gaiety of the party increases when Gerard enters with a crowd of ragged and poverty stricken men and women. The servants force them to leave, as the crowd disappear Madeleine and Chenier realize that they love each other.
The scene is the Cafe Hottot in Paris several years later. Chenier has offended the Revolutionary party by denouncing Robespierre. A spy watches Bersi, the old nurse of Madeleine hand a note to Chenier. The poet has heen receiving unsigned letters from a girl who, be realizes, loves him dearly. She now writes that she is dodged by spies, and begs the poet to meet her. Chenier's friend, Roucher, enters and brings a passport which will enable Chenier to leave Paris and gain safety. The poet refuses to take it, saying that he must meet the unknown girl. In spite of Roucher’s repeated entreaties, Chenier remains firm. Robespierre passes, a mob following, among them Gerard who now holds a high position in the Revolutionary party. He questions the spy about Madeleine who he still loves. Thee old nurse returns with another message for Chenier. Night draws on, and Madeline comes, as she has said in her letters, to meet the poet. Chenier recognises her, as does the spy who is watching closely. He rushes away to inform Gerard, and as Madeleine and Chenier are preparing to fly to safety, Gerard enters. He and Chenier fight with swords, Gerard is wounded, and the lovers make their escape.
At the Revolutionary Tribunal Gerard makes an appeal for money, he tells the listeners that France is weeping tears of blood, And so moves them that they give him their jewellry to sell in order to raise money for the poor. Gerard hears that Chenier has been captured, and that Madeleine is not far away. He immediateIy writes the accusation against Chenier; Madeleine arrives and pleads with Gerard for her lover's life. Gerard refuses to listen to her, at last her words touch him, and be promises to save Chenier it it is possible to do so. The mob, thirsting for blood rush into the Tribunal, and Chenier is brought in and faces the Judge and Jury. He defends himself brilliantly, and Gerard true to his promise declares that the accusations made against Chenier by himself are untrue. But the mob demand that Chenier shall die, and he is led away.
The prison of Lazare, it is midnight, and Chenier is writing his last poem, " Like a summer day that closes ''. He bids farewell to his friend, Roucher. Madeleine enters with Gerard, she has bribed the guards to let her impersonate another woman prisoner, so that she may die with Chenier. She says that she will never leave him and together the lovers go to the scaffold.
Public Relations Officer
E. N. S. A
Umberto Giordano, composer of Andrea Chenier was born at Foggia in 1867 and is still living. He studied at the Naples Conservatory. His first opera, «Mala Vita» a violent study of certain aspects of Neapolitan life, was produced at the Argentina Theatre in Rome in 1892. Written at a time when Mascagni's «Cavalleria Rusticana» had just achieved an unprecedented success, it surpassed in violence most of the operas of this type written by many Italian composers at the time in an attempt to emulate Mascagni's success.
The opera by which he is best known however, is «Andrea Chenier». Produced for the first time at La Scala on March 28th 1896, it was an immediate success, and was quickly taken up by opera houses all over Italy and soon made it's way abroad. it was produced in England for the first time at the Camden Theatre, London, in 1898.
Luigi Illica, the librettist, has based his story on the life Andrea Chenier the famous French poet. Chenier was born in Constantinople in 1762, whilst his father was Consul General for the French Government in that city. He fell a victim to the French Revolution. in circumstances which the opera relates, and was guillotined in Paris 25th July 1794. As a poet he is esteemed for the pure classicisin of his style, and after his death became considered second only to Racine and Boileau.
As mentioned above Giordano belongs to the realist school, of Mascagni, Leoncavallo, and Puccini. The story has given him ample scope to exploit his love of melodrama. As one would expect from an Italian composer of the period the opera is not lacking in melodious qualities. Giordano is an orchestrator of considerable skill, with a real feeling for colour which he has allowed full play in his score.
The composer has written a number ot other works, of which the opera «Fedora» has achieved a certain popularity in Italy and on the continent generally. It is the only opera to date in which bicycles appear among the props. In more serious vein, novel pedagogic experiment will be of interest to those interested in orchestral scores. Giordano is responsible for an edition of Beethoven's Symphonies, in which all the parts are transferred to bass or treble clef, and the transposing instruments shown at their actual pitch.
F. W. C. FESEL
Opera in four acts. Libretto by L. Illica - Music by Umberto Giordano.
First Production – Milan 1896
Act I. The Ball-room at the Chateau Coigny, France 1789.
Interval 15 mins.
Act II. A street in Paris, l794.
Interval 15 mins.
Act IlI. The "Comité de Salut Publique"
Interval 15 mins.
Act IV. The Courtyard of St. Laurents Prlson.
Choreographer: Bianca Callizia
Maestro Concertatore e Direttore Vincenzo Bellezza