There has to be some sympathy for Franceso Cilea who after writing Adriana Lecouvreur in 1902, and having some success, had his follow-up all but rejected on its debut. He then virtually gave up composing, seemingly happy enough to live a life in semi-academic obscurity.

Nevertheless, we have Adriana to enjoy and it is a striking piece of work. It may be short on absolute showstoppers but viewed and listened to as a complete work, it is thoroughly satisfying. The music has pleasant bounce to it, weaving between quite jolly themes and the darker tones of Act 4. Conductor Daniel Oren sees the orchestra through these deftly.

Set mostly in the world of the Comédie-Française it’s the story of a love between the actress Adriana Lecouvreur and Count Maurizio, and the complications arising from jealousy and past loves. Notes are written and sent, intercepted, miss-construed and so on and so forth. Plot wise it may over-complicate itself though this doesn’t overly clog up the flow of the opera.

Celebrating 25 years since her ROH debut soprano Angela Gheorghiu slips into the lead role (and many costume changes) that was created for her in 2010 without any difficulties, and it’s a sparkling performance. Tenor Brian Jagde as Maurizio maybe doesn’t fare quite so well; technically fine but a little starchy, acting wise, though does give an emotional punch towards the end.

One of the highlights of the night is tenor Krystian Adam singing Abbe stealing a few scenes, nimbly moving across the stage, acting as fixer and confidant. Tonight bass-baritone Gerald Finely sings Michonnet, with the expected gravitas and carries his unrequited love with dignity to the very bitter end.

David McVicars’s production and Charles Edwards set design is exquisite. A complex set-up giving the audience multiple views of the theatre backstage. The 3rd act ballet section is the highlight, with the dancers performing on stage, gradually and comically becoming aware that the audience’s attention is being distracted as the exchanges between the Princesse de Boullion (an assured and powerful debut by mezzo-soprano Ksenia Dudnikova) and Adriana intensify.

It’s taken a long time for this production to be revived (Has Ms Gheorghiu really been that busy since 2010?) However, tonight, looks very close to a sell out and it was very well received by the audience, so who knows.

Performances 10, 17, 21, 24, 27 February and 2 March.

Photograph is of Angela Gheorghiu, courtesy of Catherine Ashmore and the Royal Opera House
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