Renata Tebaldi, Mario Del Monaco, Andrea Chenier

Adam Sweeting

By Adam Sweeting

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Italian composer’s one-hit wonder.

Giordano's Andrea Chenier premiered in 1896, a few weeks after the debut of Puccini's La Bohème. (Both operas also feature librettos by Luigi Illica.) Giordano's efforts weren't destined for the same astronomical level of legendariness, but Chenier made enough of a splash to propel its creator into the limelight as a member of Italy's “giovane scuola” (young school) of composers. Of his subsequent works, Fedora is the only one likely to crop up at your nearest opera house, and Giordano is indelibly tagged as the composer of Andrea Chenier. But why not? The piece has drama and some powerful tunes, and above all is recognised as a vehicle for a star tenor. Many singers have tackled it, but Mario del Monaco towers over most of them. Always a singer of immense power, del Monaco seemed to find an extra few thousand watts when he got his teeth into the aria "Un di all'azzurro spazio," to the delight of his audiences.