[Met Performance] CID:252250

Adriana Lecouvreur
Metropolitan Opera House, Sat, February 4, 1978

Debut : Jesús López-Cobos

Adriana Lecouvreur (33)
Francesco Cilea | Arturo Colautti
Adriana Lecouvreur
Montserrat Caballé

José Carreras

Princess di Bouillon
Fiorenza Cossotto

Louis Quilico

Ivo Vinco

Andrea Velis

Alma Jean Smith

Shirley Love

Pauline Andrey

Paul Franke

Andrij Dobriansky

Donald Peck

Suzanne Laurence

Ellen Rievman

Marcus Bugler

Jack Hertzog

Jesús López-Cobos [Debut]

Nathaniel Merrill

Set Designer
Camillo Parravicini

Set Designer
Carlo Maria Cristini

Costume Designer
Ray Diffen

Norbert Vesak

Adriana Lecouvreur received ten performances this season.
The production was designed by Carlo Maria Cristini after sketches by Camillo Parravicini.

Review 1:

Review of Harriett Johnson in the Post

A night at the opera - comedy of errors

The Metropolitan Opera returned Cilea's "Adriana Lecouvreur" to the repertory Saturday night for the first time in 10 seasons and with it came the old-fashioned on-stage clichés. This revival turned its back on music-dramatic theater and highlighted the broad gesture: the miscast prima donna who can sing but not act; the tenor who doesn't understand the first principles of recreating a character.

Though the night had elements of disaster, it was saved from being completely snowed in by the conductor making his Met debut: Spanish-born Jesus Lopez-Cobos. Trained in Vienna, Lopez-Cobos has conducted at both the San Francisco Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago and this year made his symphonic debut leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic. "Adriana Lecouvreur," whose world premiere was in Milan in 1902, is a silken pastel of pretty tunes put together with skill and without passion.


Minus great singing actors, minus the guts of flesh-and-blood musical vigor the scenario palled. "Adriana" can easily be a bore or downright irritating. Lopez-Cobos directed the orchestra to play buoyantly, encouraged by a strong rhythmic pulse. Thus the lively or sentimental tunes sounded at least musically purposeful. He established himself as a valid, dynamic force despite the odds against him. In the true sense of verismo opera - forceful music supporting realism, - Cilea's inspiration misses at base. "Adriana," essentially high-class salon music, doesn't belong in the opera house unless it is brilliantly handled as drama.

Spanish soprano Montserrat Caballé making her first appearance of the season is of the wide girth to make ludicrous her playing a fragile actress who actually lived in Louis XIV's France and died at 38 years. Miss Caballé became more ludicrous when, out of character during Act I after her well-known aria, she made a complete half-turn to face the audience to acknowledge what was, to the trained ear, obviously a claque-inspired tumult.

Born in 1692, Adrienne virtually starved as a child, but fed her soul on rehearsals at "La Comedie Francaise." Eventually a protector befriended her and she landed, after a considerable apprenticeship, in the provinces, at "La Comedie." itself, as a leading actress. Eugene Scribe, together with his collaborator, Ernest Legouve, made a play from her story which brought fame to many actresses, including Bernhardt and Duse. Cilea chose librettist Arturo Colautti, to rework the play into a libretto for him.


Life as much as operatic lapses from grace must be faulted for "Adriana's" unlikely plot digressions. Miss Lecouvreur did waste a fortune on her playboy noble Maurice, Count of Saxony, (in the opera, Maurizio), sung for us by Jose Carreras, of the golden voice and innocent demeanor. An unsuccessful attempt on the actress' life is embellished and made fatal in the opera. She did have a rival at the "Comedie," La Duclos. And while Maurizio, in the chorus for all his foibles, cherishes Adriana as his true love in the end, in life he ended up with the Princess de Bouillon, played with eclat Saturday by Italian [mezzo] soprano Fiorenza Cossotto.

So far as good looks and fiery projection go, Miss Cossotto became the singing star of the night. For beauty's sake, she sang with too much toughness, like a Mafia confederate in the lower voice, and with stridency on the top. But after all, the Princess was of that ilk. She eventually poisoned her rival.


Her duet with Adriana in Act II when neither recognizes the other in the dark, came across with stunning impact. After all, Miss Caballé can sing, and the dark made a perfect ambience for her. Her big, impressive voice blended well with Miss Cossotto's and once, when in the light, she lay down on the chaise to sing, it was exquisite. Yet she was about as delicate as an Amazon, as overpowering as an Amneris or Ortrud. She needed a Melchior, not slight Carreras who acted like a frightened, embarrassed boy on leave from military school. He was anything but a Count who fancied himself pretender to the Polish throne and actually commanded the French armies as Marechal de France.

Though Carreras has an opulent voice and looks like a lover, he was in the wrong boudoir this time. He couldn't seem to reach over Miss Cabellé's sumptuous bosoms for a clincher until just before the end. Once he gave her a peck on the cheek and ran. This elicited a few laughs. As Michonnet, the good man beyond credibility, Louis Quilico was reasonably believable and he sang very well. He has a gorgeous baritone which he uses expertly. Basso Ivo Vinco was the Prince de Bouillon.

In the character role of the conniving, hypocritical man of the cloth, the Abbe de Chazeuill, Andrea Velis was first rate. The sets, elaborate without distinction or splendor, were designed by C. M. Cristini from sketches by Camillo Paravicini. Ray Diffen was costume designer. The production was by Nathaniel Merrill. The "Judgment of Paris" Ballet, one which we have no space to pass judgment, was choreographed by Norbert Vesak.

Photographs of Montserrat Caballé and Fiorenza Cossotto in Adriana Lecouvreur by James Heffernan/Metropolitan Opera.

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