Notes and Editorial Reviews
Andrea Chénier (1955). 112m. Stella, Del Monaco, Taddei; Questa. Chorus and Orchestra of RAI. B&W (transferred from a kinescope)
DVD No subtitles but includes a 24-p. booklet with synopsis, essays and photos
R E V I E W S
This is the best Chénier on video, and the sound track is thrilling to hear. The producer, Corradi, gives the opera a traditional but imaginative treatment, distinguished by a real sympathy for the idiom and these singers.
The caliber of these performers is rarely matched elsewhere. The many supporting singers are superb--vocally excellent for the most part, and all totally inside their parts and very inventive. This isn't opera to them, it's life.
Looking at the other videos [of Chénier] one could scarcely imagine so much detail was possible. L'Incredibile (Athos Cesarini) is played as an 'exquisite,' Roucher (Franco Calabrese) has an arresting dignity and a splendid voice, the lower-class characters are full of color, unction, and danger.
Del Monaco and Stella look wonderful. The tenor, youthful here with a rare vulnerability and sweetness, does almost none of the carrying on for which he was famous. His Chénier is above all a person: ardent, needy, and sensitive. It's amazing to realize, but he has a real talent for camera acting. Stella matches him for tenderness and abandon. One doesn't expect to like or believe in the poet and his Maddalena, but these two are so endearing and recognizable as decent humans caught up in murderous events that the opera becomes very moving. They sound spectacular on the sound track.
Taddei was one of two great Italian baritones of his period (the other was Tito Gobbi). His is an immense voice of glorious impact, and he is a charismatic and detailed actor. He was a short, very chubby man, but like all great actors, uses and transcends his physical appearance. Not for a second is Gérard other than a complex, haunting, and unique human being. Taddei understands and projects that Gérard's actions are rooted in a profound need for love and belonging. His understanding in Act III that he can never have it, and belongs neither with the gentry nor the revolutionaries, makes his the tragic fate in the opera. He is heartbreaking there.
-- Albert Innaurato, The Metropolitan Opera Guide to Opera on Video
Works on This Recording
Andrea Chénier by Umberto Giordano
Giuseppe Taddei (Baritone),
Mario Del Monaco (Tenor),
Antonietta Stella (Soprano)
Written: 1896; Italy
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