- Julian Budden
Opera in four acts by francesco Cilea to a libretto by arturo Colautti after eugène Scribe and Ernest Legouvé’s play Adrienne Lecouvreur; Milan, Teatro Lirico, 6 November 1902.
Adriana Lecouvreur was commissioned by the publisher Edoardo Sonzogno following the success of Cilea’s L’arlesiana. Cilea chose the subject for its mixture of comedy and tragedy, its 18th-century ambience, the loving intensity of its protagonist and the moving final act; three other operas use the story of Adrienne Lecouvreur (by Edoardo Vera, Tommaso Benvenuti and Ettore Perosio). Colautti reduced the intricate mechanism of Scribe’s plot to a serviceable operatic framework, occasionally at the expense of clarity. The première, however, was outstandingly successful, with a cast that included Enrico Caruso (Maurizio), Angelica Pandolfini (Adriana) and Giuseppe De Luca (Michonnet). The conductor was Cleofonte Campanini. The first London performance took place at Covent Garden in ...