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Francesco Cilèa’s most famous opera casts light on the final love affair and death of the French actress Adriana Lecouvreur (1692-1730). She was not only an idolised actress, but also had a well-known liaison with the lesser-known Feldherrn Moritz von Sachsen. The rumor that she was poisoned by a rival has held true and inspired numerous artists, including Cilèa who created the opera Adriana Lecouvreur which had its world premiere in 1902.Trailer
Cast | 12.11.2017
Backstage at the Comédie-Française the actors and stage director Michonnet are preparing for a performance. Amongst them is the famous actress Adriana Lecouvreur, whom Michonnet loves. She however is in love with Maurizio of Saxony, who has concealed his true identity and is passing himself off as an ensign. As a token of her love, Adriana gives him a posy of violets. Maurizio has also had a relationship with Princess de Bouillon, whose husband is having an affair with the actress Mlle Duclos. When the Prince de Bouillon intercepts a letter from Mlle Duclos to Maurizio, inviting him to meet her at her villa that night, the Prince suspects that the actress is unfaithful to him. In fact, she had written the letter on behalf of the Princess to protect the latter's good name. To take his revenge and expose the actress, the Prince invites the whole cast from the Comédie-Française to a supper party at the villa.
At the Duclos villa, the Princess de Bouillon awaits Maurizio, who is hoping to gain her political support. She realizes that he does not love her; to assuage her jealousy he gives her the posy of violets. The two of them are interrupted by the arrival of the Prince, and the Princess is able to take refuge in an inner room. Adriana joins the party – and Maurizio's true identity is revealed. The two rivals meet in the dark inner room, but do not recognize each other. The Princess finally manages to escape unnoticed.
At a party, the Princess guesses that Adriana is the Maurizio's lover. A furtive struggle begins between the two women – both are tormented by jealousy. Adriana finally recites a speech from Racine's Phèdre, exposing the Princess with these lines directed at her: "I cannot dissimulate like those audacious, impure women who love to betray, whose brow of ice can never blush."
Adriana, sick with love, has decided to retire from the stage. She feels deserted by Maurizio. Her sense of desolation is reinforced when a casket is delivered, containing the wilted posy of violets. However, her lover arrives and asks her to become his wife. Adriana suddenly collapses; the violets were in fact sent by the Princess, who had poisoned them. Adriana dies.
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Co-production with Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London; Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona; L’Opéra National de Paris; San Francisco Opera