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Review: Adriana Lecouvreur

Royal Opera House

    Angela Gheorghiu is the clear bill-topper and crowd-puller for this revived production to mark the 25th anniversary of her Covent Garden debut.

    But the Romanian soprano had some stiff competition when it came to who is star of the show.

    The Royal Opera has put together a powerful line-up for a revival production of Francesco Cilea’s sadly neglected tale of love, betrayal and revenge.

    The fine supporting cast is led by baritone Gerald Finley, who gives a wistful study of stage manager Michonnet, who is secretly in love with the lead character.

    Brian Jagde is suitably vibrant and macho as her cheating lover Maurizio and mezzo-soprano Ksenia Dudnikova gives Gheorghiu a run for her money as her scheming love rival, the Princess de Bouillon.

    Israeli conductor Daniel Oren holds the whole performance together, bringing out the charming melodies and colourful orchestration in Cilea’s masterpiece.

    The four-act opera - a play within a play - is staged on two lavish sets of the Prince’s palace, sandwiched between a lifelike copy of the backstage area of the Comedie-Francaise in the 1720s, where the tragedy is set.

    It’s a shame this work – best described as Puccini-light – does not get a more frequent hearing.  It was last performed in Covent Garden in 2010, with Gheorghiu in the lead role again. But you have to go back to 1906, five years after its Milan premiere, for the previous production here.

    Its neglect is partly blamed on the complicated plot but also on the composer living in the shadow of his fellow Italian contemporary, Puccini.

    But as the cast proved with their diva, eclipses don’t last for ever.