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Item# MP3-1067400
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U. Giordano ANDREA CHENIER Seattle Opera April 27 to May 11,1996 Andrea Chenier:Ben Heppner Maddalena:Dian Soviero Gerard:Richard Paul Fink Countess di Coigny:Shirley Hamed Bersi: Kathleen Hegierski Madelon:Sheila Nadder with: Byron Ellis Paul Gudas Matthew Lau Archi Drake Barry Johnson The Seattle Opera Orchestra and Chorus Conductor:Steven Mercurio

Monday, April 29, 1996 Seattle Opera Scores Triumph With `Andrea Chenier' By Melinda Bargreen Seattle Times Music Critic Opera review"Andrea Chenier," by Umberto Giordano, in Seattle Opera production, with Steven Mercurio conducting; Opera House, last Saturday, continuing Wednesday through May 11 (389-7676). Some opera performances crackle with energy from the first downbeat to the final curtain; that's the kind of energy that infused the opening night of Seattle Opera's "Andrea Chenier" on Saturday. A lot of the excitement was due to the appearance of tenor Ben Heppner in the title role for the first time in his career - and another career first for his Maddalena, Diane Soviero (they've both sung the roles in concert before, but never in a staged production). Maybe it was the extra element of drama attached to these "firsts," and maybe it was just seeing two outstanding singers in roles to which they gave a passionate commitment. Whatever the reasons, however, Heppner and Soviero sang as if their lives depended on it, surrounded by a first-rate supporting cast and a supercharged orchestra under the baton of Steven Mercurio. Heppner is glorious The Canadian-born Heppner is widely regarded as today's leading young dramatic tenor, and a Wagnerian of great distinction. He doesn't have the Italianate sound that many tenors bring to "Andrea Chenier" - most notably Franco Corelli, who sang the role unforgettably here in 1968 - but he scores a great success singing the role his way. Heppner's huge, glorious voice fills the title role with a passionate intensity beyond anything he has yet sung in Seattle. The effect was electric. The usually mild-mannered opening-night audience shrieked and shouted after Heppner's opening Improvviso; more lengthy tributes arrived in the wake of the subsequent arias and duets with Soviero. A riveting actress, Soviero projected the most affecting fragility and vulnerability as Maddalena, making her final courageous gestures all the more telling. Vocally and dramatically, this role is so right for her that it was hard to believe Saturday was her debut performance. A brilliant Gerard The crucial baritone role of Gerard was sung brilliantly by Richard Paul Fink, who gave a big, honest performance as the opera's most conflicted character. His third-act scene with Maddalena - staged expertly by Bernard Uzan, who knows how to heighten the drama of confrontations as well as crowd scenes - displayed a vocal mastery of the role and the most impassioned understanding of the character. Kathleen Hegierski brought both heart and soul to the crucial supporting role of Bersi. Shirley Harned was a brilliant Contessa; Sheila Nadler virtually stopped the show in her brief but emotionally powerful appearance as Madelon. Byron Ellis, Paul Gudas, Matthew Lau, Archie Drake and Barry Johnson all gave remarkably well-characterized performances. Visual and aural passion Mercurio gave the orchestra the kind of full rein that would have overpowered most casts, but not this one; suffice it to say that there were no flat or static musical moments. Uzan extracted every ounce of drama from the crowd scenes, conveying all the passion, peril and paranoia of the French Revolution. (Uzan also is co-designer of the scenery, with Michel Beaulac; it was originally created for L'Opera de Montreal). The Seattle Opera Chorus, rehearsed by George Fiore, was at the top of its form for some splendid singing and effective acting. This is a show to catch, if you can. This is a cast that's as good as any assembled at today's leading opera houses. Forget all the Three Tenors hype and come to hear a Real Tenor.


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USA Telephone (404) 200-4776 We sell only opera recordings. The recordings are sent to you in paper sleeves with no tray card or inserts, just the raw discs with printed labels. These recordings are of nonprofessional quality that are in the public domain. The quality of these old opera recordings is not very good and they are meant for collectors and educational purposes only. Most of them are 30 or 40 years old, so they might be blurry, colors faded, and not sound very good, but they might not be available elsewhere. Please note that most of our recordings do not have tracks, they have 1 long track per disc.