Saturday, 23 January 2016

Le bonheur des méchants est un crime des dieux

"Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel." - Che Guevara

And so to the opera. Opera North have served up another fine slice of verismo in Giordano's Andrea Chenier. Inevitably the tone is black, though speaking personally I can't really see the downside of feckless, ci-devant aristos getting their heads chopped off. This style of late nineteenth century Italian opera is very much to my taste and, especially as well performed as it is here, easily overcomes the somewhat ridiculous plot. The truth referred to is of the emotional variety rather than the realistic.

So what is this plot? It involves two senior Jacobins who are ill-advisedly enamoured of Maddalena de Coigny, one of the very parasites that they have just overthrown. If simply being the daughter of a count wasn't enough to condemn her in the eyes of all right-thinking people (hint: it is) then her behaviour subsequent to the revolution certainly would be. Claiming to be penniless she encourages her maid to work as a prostitute to support them both, only to be revealed as having money and jewels stashed away all the time. These she uses to bribe her way to her final self-indulgent self-sacrifice. She obviously hadn't read his poems.

"Le moment d'être sage est voisin du tombeau." - André Chénier

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