CILEA: Adriana Lecouvreur (complete opera, 2009), Blu-ray
Performers: Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Regio Torino/Renato Palumbo
Stage director: Lorenzo Mariani
Cast: Adriana Lecouvreur: Micaela Carosi/ Maurizio: Marcelo Alvarez/ La principessa di Bouillon: Marianne Cornetti/ Michonnet: Alfonso Antoniozzi/ Il principe di Bouillon: Simone Del Savio/ L’abate di Chazeuil: Luca Casalin/ Madamigella Jouvenot: Antonella De Chiara/ Madamigella Dangeville: Patrizia Porzio
Studio: ArtHaus B003IP2YGC [6/29/10] (Distr. by Naxos)
Video: 1.77:1 for 16:9 1080i HD Color
Audio: Italian PCM Stereo, DTS-HD MA 7.1 Surround Sound
Subtitles: Italian, English, French, Danish, Spanish
Length: 151 minutes
Adrienne Lecouvreur (5 April 1692 – 20 March 1730) was a French actress who was a proponent of a more naturalized style of performance. There are disagreements about whether (as indicated in this opera) she was really poisoned by her rival Maria Karolina Sobieska, Duchess of Bouillon for the affections of Maurice de Saxe, later the Marshal General of France. But Cilea’s opera is one of the more popular verisimo operas in the repertory, a style of realism that entered the music world with the advent of Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana. Adriana has plenty of libretto weaknesses—what opera doesn’t—but the music comes to the rescue each time.
The main role is really split between the two female protagonists with that of the heroine slightly winning out with the virtual banishment of the character of La principessa di Bouillon from the fourth (and longest) Act altogether. The remarks in the opening paragraph really do sum up the plot—Adriana, a popular but still class-wise lowly actress is in rivalry for the affections of Maurizio, who returns them despite the machinations of the Princess, who at least implicitly poisons some flowers that Adriana opens in the last act and gets a huge whiff of. There is little action in this work and lots of moralizing about art and what not, but again, the music always wins the day and makes the length tolerable, though this opera is usually cut, sometimes severely.
This is a live production that takes place in Torino on a relatively small stage. The sets are fairly bare bones though hardly expressionistic or anything like that, though the costumes are very ornate genuine period outfits that look good. I like Micaela Carosi in the title role though I can imagine more fluidity in the voice than what she gives. She does sing with a great deal of inflection and passion. American Marianne Cornetti is good as her nemesis with a searing mezzo voice of great impact, though I had to laugh when Maurizio refers to her as “the slim one” in the libretto—look at this opera and you will see why that is amusing. The real star of this production, and I think the real superstar among the vocalists is Marcelo Alvarez, a wonderful belting tenor of the old school who makes the most of his every dramatic moment. The other roles are well sung indeed, and this intimate look at a very tragic woman who really once walked among us, though badly plotted, resonates through Cilea’s superb score. There are about six DVD versions out there, the most noted being Montserrat Caballé and José Carreras from quite a while back, and I am sure this is the first and only Blu-ray edition. As such, recommended, and also because it really is nicely done, the local orchestra playing magnificently like they have been doing it since childhood—which they probably have.
I should note that this is a 1080i HD production; not 1080p for some reason. Most of the recent music Blu-rays I have come across are 1080i—perhaps our editor can enlighten us as to why. I cannot comment on the DTS lossless 7.1—though my receiver will handle it, I have not gone for the additional two speakers as of yet. But it seems to work easily on a 5.1 system with excellent results. [Right, the standard positioning of the two extra speakers in the center back is useless for most music – they should go as height speakers on the sides or toward the front if you want to bother with them. Most HD music video productions are interlaced rather than progressive, while film-originating feature films are normally 1080p. Usually very little difference between the two…Ed.]
— Steven Ritter