When Adriana Lecouvreur makes her entrance in the first act of Francesco Cilea's opera to the strains of her characteristic sweeping melody and chides her admirers that she is only 'the humble maidservant of the creative spirit the echo of human drama her modest desire for self-effacement conceals one of the essential truths of this and many of the operas of Cilea's Italian contemporaries: their unswerving focus on one remarkable woman. Like Tosca or Madama Butterfly Adriana is the character at the very centre of the action the one who draws all the audience's sympathies.... Unsurprisingly when the historical figure Adrienne Lecouvreur of the Comedie-Francaise returned to theatrical life in 1849 as the subject of a play by the dramatist Eugene Scribe and his collaborator Ernest Legouve the role became associated with such legends of the stage as Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse. And in her musical incarnation at the hands of Cilea the part has similarly been something of a vehicle for great singing actresses. [show more]
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