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Music: Umberto Giordano. Lyrics: Liugi Illica.
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First performance at: La Scala 28 mars 1896.
|Il Maestro di casa||bass|
|Il Sanculotto Mathieu||baritone|
|La Contessa di Coigny||mezzosoprano|
|La Mulatta Bersi||mezzosoprano|
|Maddalena di Coigny||soprano|
At the contessa de Coigny´s fete, her daughter Maddalena is struck by the sincerity and passion of the poet Andrea Chénier who, in an improvised verse, denounces the selfishness and greed of the ruling classes. He is interrupted by a group of rebellious peasants, led by one of the contessa´s servants, Gérard, who tears off his livery. They leave, and calm returns, the party resuming as if nothing had happened.
Five years have passed and Chénier is distraught at the violence of the revolutionaries. One of his friends, Roucher, has secured him a passport and begs Chénier to leave while he can; but the poet reveals that a woman has sent him a note, requesting a meeting that evening. It is from Maddalena. When they meet, Maddalena confesses her love for Chénier - which he reciprocates - but they are spied upon by Gérard (now working for Robespierre), who tries to abduct Amaddalena. In the ensuing fight, Gérard is wounde by Chénier; but when Gérard is asked to name his attacker, he pretends not to know.
Chénier has been arrested. In an impassioned monologue; Gérard sings of his disillusionment, of his corrupted patriotism and his desire for Maddalena. Driven by this desire, he signs Chéniers indictment. Maddalena begs Gérard to let Chénier go, even offering herself to him in return, but at the trial neither Chénier´s assured selfdefence nor Gérards publicly stated change of heart can save him from the guillotine.
In his prison cell, Chénier writes his final poem. Before he is called to his death, Maddalena convinces Gérard to allow her to take the place of another female prisoner so that she and Chénier may meet their deaths together.
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