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Stars only for the leads,
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This review is from: Giordano: Andrea Chenier - Royal Opera House/Rudel [DVD]   (DVD)
In recent years the standard and marketing of DVDs of Covent Garden's historic productions can leave a great deal to be desired and this 1985 production of Andrea Chenier, under the baton of Julius Rudel, is no exception. Fortunately the sound is very good but the picture quality is disappointing for colour intensity has faded. Foolishly the decision was made to seriously cutdown on the time allowed for curtain calls which adds to the impression that the DVD was manufactured in a hurry. The DVD has been very badly marketed for there is no booklet, the sleeve contains very little information, there is virtually no cast identification and the chapter headings neither identify the character singing nor provide a time frame for the chapter.
The production is very well served by the three first class leads. In the title role Placido Domingo gives both an ardent and serious-minded performance. He is at his very best in act one which also comes across as the most impressively staged. As Maddalena Anna Tomowa-Sintow looks slightly too mature for the role but both her singing and acting are expressive. The stand-out is the solid and dependable baritone Giorgio Zancanaro who gives a first class performance as Gerard, a servant turned revolutionary who is torn between political and amorous loyalties. Gerard's act three aria "Nemico della Patria" is the high point of the performance. In addition to the three leads there is a support cast of twelve solo roles but here the standard of singing is not always what it could be. The production's difficulties extend to the chorus for in both acts two & three the acting of the artistes in the crowd scences came across as under rehearsed.
In 1981 Vienna mounted a production of the opera under the baton of Nello Santi. On this occasion Placido Domingo's great talents as singer and actor are better served for there is a greater understanding of the drama and intensity of this outstanding example of verismo. Gabriela Benackova and Piero Cappuccilli are also excellent but the merits of the staging is questionable for at times the action is almost plunged into darkness. In 2011 a DVD of the Met's 1997 production, under the baton of James Levine, was belatedly released. Despite his advancing age Luciano Pavarotti is still in fine voice and receives very good support from Maria Guleghina and Juan Pons. The good singing standards extend to all cast members of this well staged production. Both these productions eclipse the rather tepid effort from Covent Garden.