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Alagna eclipsed in title role of Andrea Chénier at the Royal Opera House

30 May, 2019 — By Michael White

Roberto Alagna as Andrea Chénier and Sondra Radvanovsky as Maddalena di Coigny. Photo: Catherine Ashmore

IT is an interesting situation when a big star opera singer like Roberto Alagna is eclipsed on stage by lesser names in supporting roles; and it’s what happens in Andrea Chénier this time round at the Royal Opera House.

Giordano’s high-intensity verismo opera about poetry and politics in the French Revolution isn’t the most soph­isti­cated piece of writing in the repertoire but it’s good entertainment – especially in this handsome production by David McVicar, which was originally built around Jonas Kaufmann, leading heart-throb tenor of today, in the title role.

For its current revival, Alagna was cast to be a comparable draw; and he undoubtedly has impact, with a strong, assertive presence. But the voice is curdled and the tone is forced: it’s all too full-on. And instead the laurels go to two singers you may not have heard of but who give the performances of their lives: Greek baritone Dimitri Platanias as Gerard, the tough revolutionary who turns out to have a conscience, and American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky who electrifies as the self-sacrificing love interest.

See the show for her and you won’t be disappointed.

• Andrea Chénier is at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 7.30pm on May 31, June 3 and June 6; and 3pm June 9. 020 7304 4000, www.roh.org.uk

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