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Contact: irina.stanescu@ymail.com
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Adriana. 22.11. Went, listened to, liked

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Less than 24 hours in London. Many told me “you’re crazy”. Am I? Maybe. But it’s my sweet craziness. I went to see Adriana Lecouvreur at Royal Opera House, the second performance of the run.
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But the story started before the beginning of the performance. I met a great lady. We’ve been emailing each other for some time now but never got to actually meet. So on Monday, West met East, having London as meeting point. Having in common one great passion (namely Angela's art), it was easy to get along. We decided to have lunch. Where should we go?..... Let’s go to Giovanni’s.
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I knew about this place but never got the chance to go there. Giovanni’s is a small Italian restaurant in Covent Garden, not very far away from Royal Opera. I would describe it more as a cozy living room, that gathers tons of beautiful memories. The walls are full of photos, most of them with autographs. From friends, maybe family, but most of them, from artists. Famous artists that came to eat here, who felt like being at home and left a thank you note. On one of the walls there are many pictures related to Angela and Roberto. I think that some of you say “THAT Giovanni’s”. Sure, that one. If you get in front of the wall you forget that you’re hungry and start admiring the photos. Or read the articles. One big Tosca poster, signed, seems to tell you “take a photooooo”.
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Lucky us, we were the only ones in the restaurant at 5:30pm. We sat down at the closest table to the photos. A nice young Italian lady came and we ordered two glasses of wine. A gentleman came back with our order. He asked “How come you know Angela?”. Probably the lady told him that we were staring at the wall. So we explained why we came to his restaurant and we’re about to go to Royal Opera to see Adriana. I guess we made him think we’re trustful because he started the story: how Angela and Roberto met, how he went to New York when they got married, how they still keep in touch with him…
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Then he left to bring the food we ordered while he was talking. Wait a minute, we said. He must be Giovanni. Great, isn’t it? For him the word “Angela” was like a password. The moment he heard it, story after story came out. Before the food came, we heard a voice saying “hey, guys, I changed the music. You’re listening to Angela now”. He brought the pasta and carried one talking. In a low voice, as if telling some sort of secrets, with Casta Diva as musical background. Imagine the atmosphere. The restaurant and that amazing storyteller were just for us. I would have loved to stay more, but we had to leave. Adriana was about to begin in 20 minutes. Pino, thank you so, so much!
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Adriana L, the sad story of an actress told with lots and lots of details. Very ingenious idea of using theatre in a theatre concept. This way you can see what’s both the stage and behind the stage. One particular moment is very interesting. At the beginning you see the backstage. Then Adriana has to go on stage to deliver the monologue and the stage on stage rotates a little bit to the left. Michonnet comments everything and while he’s singing you can see the characters moving on the stage and miming the words, but from behind. I also find interesting the fact that you get to see Adriana dressing up for the performance. What seems to be a dress turns out to be made of at least 4 or 5 pieces. I didn’t know that. So, moving stage, people coming up and down the stairs, improvised rooms for actors moving to the left, details of the theatre from back then (see the stage lighting with candles), many different costumes, jewellery, Adriana dressing up… lots of movement for somebody who sees the production for the first time.
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Be careful not to pay too much attention to the sets and forget about the voices and acting. So you’ll miss the first important arias, Adriana’s Io son l’umile ancella and Maurizio’s Dolcissima effigie. I have the habbit of noticing details on stage (some say it's good, some others, the opposite). And this time I got trapped.
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Act 2 is less animated. Now we’re in a villa. It’s more about the lighting here. This act brought the first dramatic moment, the confrontation between Adriana and Principessa de Buillon. I considered it the highlight of the first part of the opera. Very intense, that kind of music that makes you jump off the chair. That was great! Only that it was also the end of the first part of the opera. After the interval the drama stops as there’s a party going on. Nice ballet (but read the libretto first to have an idea what it’s about, otherwise you’ll ask yourselves what’s with the golden apple). And then, back to drama. The long waited monologue that helps Adriana get revenged. Interval again.. and it was the second time I felt taken away from the atmosphere because of stage/costume changes.
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I declare myself a fan of the fourth act. It gave me that this-is-it feeling. Butterflies in my stomach, some tears in the end. It was beautiful. I've been looking for that connection throughout the opera and that final duet and Adriana's death brought it. Quadruple doze of emotions added for the ending. First, Adriana dies, in the arms of Maurizio. Then he cries " morta, morta" (the effect should be devastating, and similar to "Mimi, Mimi" and "Manon"). Then the characters on the stage come to the edge, remove their hats and take a bow, as if saying "the show is over" and last but not least, the orchestra concludes in pianissimo. So, what do you think?
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I was in my happy mood again, living up there on my private cloud. London.. ROH... Angela... Jonas... couldn't ask for more. But this is not over yet. Once is not enough. I knew the music but everything else was new to me. I'll go back soon.
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P.S. 1 - Last night performance was filmed. Maybe there are plans for releasing a DVD.
P.S. 2 - to whom it may concern :)... the poster got home in one piece.
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And now, the photos. Taken during the curtain call and at the backstage door. Enjoy!
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Bonaventura Bottone
Alessandro Corbelli
Maurizio Muraro
Michaela Schuster
Jonas Kaufmann

Angela Gheorghiu





Mark Elder














Dedication to somebody that wanted to be there really bad but couldn't make it. Sorry :( But we thought of you!


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9 comments:

  1. Thanks Irina for your report and the very nice foto! I hope we will have a dvd and I m lookink for december the 4 to listen Adriana on the radio.
    Now I think I will try to go to ROH to see Tosca in june with Jonas and Angela!
    Anne

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  2. Congratulations Irina for your inspired escape!
    Thank you for the review and the photos.
    Angela is shining and seems so happy.
    However, it was disappointing not to find any mention in our media referring to this wonderful event. I just don’t understand why…

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  3. @Anne - It's in July. 14 and 17. I'm sure it will be great.
    @Ruxandra - there was only a note on Radio Romania Muzical website on the day of the premiere, announcing it. That's all.

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing your story and pictures.

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  5. Having dinner in Giovanni's and attending this performance at the ROH is the best way to spend such a short time in London. I have been in Giovanni's too and we were talking quite a lot with Pino. He told us about how Angela and Roberto started to go there, he show us "their" place at the restaurant, he show us the old "menu" including some pasta with Angela and Robero's names and, suddenly, he even said "Wait! I will call Roberto! He's in Italy now" and he took his mobile and called him... unfortunately, he didn't get an answer... it would have been funny talk to him in such a situation and from such a place.

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  6. @Carlos - THE BEST way. It gets in the mood for opera instantly.I'll go again, for sure.
    I'm glad that I'm not the only one with a story about Giovanni's.

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  7. Wonderful story and pictures as always on this great blog. What else can I say except that we have to go back to Giovanni's together so I can ask my dear friend Pino to tell you how he would become king of Sicily if Italy is one day a monarchy again and how Shakespeare who is in fact Sicilian is his ancester?
    Brava Angela and brava Irina!

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  8. Irina - thanks so much for your post; it was a joy to read. I went to the same performance and I thought it was magical. I go to the ROH quite frequently but it is always something very special when Angela sings.

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  9. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my story. It was a special evening, indeed.

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