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Opera Abbreviated: 'Adriana Lecouvreur'

Vincent Peters
Metropolitan Opera
Anna Netrebko as Adriana and Piotr Beczala as Maurizio in Adriana Lecouvreur

Fifty years ago, a teacher gave me two tickets to see Renata Tebaldi and Franco Corelli in Francesco Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur

I had never heard of this opera. I only knew it wasn't La Boheme or Aida. I paid five bucks a piece to see those productions the same week.

But even with free tickets, the lawn-mowing money was running low, and I still had to take the bus and subway into Boston on a school night.

Being young can be unfortunate. I missed the two greatest Italian-born singers of the mid-20th century. I missed a dramatic and tuneful opera set in 17th-century France, a combination of love, sex, politics, revenge and poisoned flowers.

Don't make my mistake. Go and see the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Adriana Lecouvreur starring Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczala and Anita Rachvelishvili, live in HD on Saturday, Jan. 12.

Here's a preview:

Not every opera needs to be a masterpiece. Cilea (1866-1950) was a popular composer in his day. He had a long career as director of the Conservatory in Palermo. His operas were good enough for Enrico Caruso – not forgetting Tebaldi, Corelli and the full houses applauding them.

P.S. Last year I was at a dinner with some distinguished musicological types. I asked if there was any interest in early 20th-century Italian composers.

"Are there any?" asked one distinguished professor.

But as I was leaving, this gentleman whispered to me, "Don't tell, but I love Adriana."

In this edition of Opera Abbreviated, we hear Tebaldi (Adriana), Mario del Monaco (Maurizio) and Giulietta Simionato (Princess de Bouillon). Franco Capuana conducts.

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.