Edinburgh Music Review, 31 May 2024
Written By Hugh Kerr
Giordano: Andrea Chenier, London, Royal Opera House, ab 30. Mai 2024
Andrea Chenier Royal Opera House
Well they pulled it off !

The first night of ‘Andrea Chenier’ at the Royal Opera House was an exciting occasion, not least for me reviewing it for the first time for the Edinburgh Music Review from the stalls at Covent Garden. When I used to buy my own tickets they were usually in the Upper Slips at £20 a time and Covent Garden are to be commended for keeping Upper Slips prices accessible. Of course the view from the stalls is better, but not £200 better!

It was also exciting because the opera featured two great but ageing opera stars. Jonas Kaufmann is the most famous tenor of his time, but at age 54 with a voice that has had some problems in recent years. Could he still thrill the audience? Sondra Radvanosky is also one of our leading sopranos, and of a similar age - could she still shine as the radiant heroine?

Well the answer was overwhelmingly yes. Kaufmann from his first great aria in Act One was in great voice. True it’s not the voice of 20 years ago, when I first saw him in ‘Carmen‘ at the Garden - age and a busy schedule does take its toll. He doesn’t have the Italianate tones of Corelli and Pavarotti, but this is still one of the great voices of our time and one of the finest operatic actors. Last night he pulled it off.

Sondra Radvanovsky also answered recent questions about her voice triumphantly. In their final duet, walking to their death together, they deservedly brought the house down.

But if our two stars were in good form, they were almost outshone by the fine Mongolian bass baritone Amartuvshin Enkhbat, singing the part of Gerard, the butler who becomes a revolutionary. From his very first aria his deep baritone voice impressed the first night audience. At the end his ovation rivalled that of our stars; clearly he is a star in the making. The rest of the cast were very sound. It was good to see Rosalind Plowright, a star from my youth, playing the part of the old countess. Also let’s hear it for Scotland’s great opera producer David McVicar, whose production of ‘Andrea Chenier’ captures the period perfectly. Thankfully there is no radical Regietheatre here!

Finally let me pay tribute to Tony Pappano, the conductor and outgoing music director at Covent Garden. He conducted ‘Chenier’ wonderfully last night, ensuring with the orchestra that the musical quality of this great opera was fully appreciated. He got a great ovation at the beginning and the end of the opera. Tony has been a great music director and a fine conductor. We will miss him, but he will be back as a visiting conductor in future not least for the rest of the Ring Cycle.


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