January 24, 2019

The Metropolitan Opera staged “Adriana Lecouvreur for HD broadcast January 12, shown locally at the Hollywood 16. Almost a dozen aficionados engaged the four-act, three-and-a-half hour long presentation in first-class lounge chairs, right here in the heart of the Panhandle.

The composer was the Calabrian Francesco Cilea, whose work reflected his Neapolitan musical training. This opera is in the genre of opera verismo, opera true to life which was in vogue in the latter 19th century.

Though the story is based on a real character, the leading Parisian actress in the early eighteenth century, the plot is a big stretch for a verismo designation.

Adriana’s lover Maurizio, a prince of Poland and military hero, can’t make up his mind between serving his ambition or his heart. He finally decides as he holds the dying Adriana. Over the top sappy.

Adriana’s rival in love, the Princess of Bouillon, a married woman, also loves Maurizio.  She is also a pathologically jealous narcissist who has no qualms about murder in the name of love. Hell  hath no fury…..

The narrative tack is a gossipy consequence of the true tale, but this is opera and artistic license is indulged.

And what opera! It requires two divas to play two divas and former prima donnas include Monserrat Caballe and Renata Tibaldi, the latter famously blackmailing Rudolf Bing for a part.

And Sir David McVicars secured the leading ladies of the opera world for the starring roles: Anna Netrebko and Anita Rachvelishvili. Their voices, whether solo or in concert were transcendent! Tenor Piotr Beczala sounded almost puny against this dynamic female duo. “Bravissime’s” echoed like rolling thunder in the Sybil B. Harrington Performance Hall.

Three supporting male roles, all sung by Italians, were well-done and revealed credible characters. The audience showed their appreciation by enthusiastic applause as each took their bows.

This opera was a privilege to see. Like the recent blood moon, Adriana Lecouvreur will not be staged for probably many years, until the likes of Netrebko and Rachvelishvili reappear. That ain’t gonna happen anytime soon!

The Met in HD is but another example of the quality artistic culture available in this supposedly uncultured location. Anna Netrebko in the Panhandle? Yup!

That’s why we keep saying: “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!

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