Giordano's is a very good, dramatic and entertaining opera but it is no masterpiece. Although it has some challenging and exciting arias for the principals, musically it never quite takes off like it should - it really needs a Puccini to make those moments soar.
The production itself is very handsome. I almost felt I was back in the 70s when I first started going to ROH so straightforward and opulent was the production/design.
When it was new I saw Kaufman and Westbroek in the main parts and very good they were too. No such luck for this cast. Roberto Alagna was Chenier. Even in his prime I was not a great fan but he's now way past his best. The voice is now very coarse and he belts everything out with questionable pitching. Sondra Radvanovsky was better as Maddelena. She doesn't have a very attractive voice and her early scenes were a trial but she improved and her final aria was delivered well. Not for the first time in opera it was the baritone that stole the show - Dimitri Platanias was excellent as Gerard.
I've not seen it before - didn't want to see it enough to join in the ticket scrum for Kaufmamn a few years ago - so maybe not having anyone to compare to will help & I have liked Alagna in the other roles I've seen him in.
Saw this last night. Beautiful, opulent staging, lovely big chorus..some children doing a gavotte, couple of proper ballet dancers in the first half... it had the kitchen sink thrown at it. Perfectly good music and some cracking 'shouty' arias which as a non-afficianado I always enjoy. Madellena's Mama e Morte (or whatever) towards the end was spine tingling. I couldn't actually see the principals from my seat (Door 5F slips) as they were confronting their fate at the end which was a shame but they sounded great. An hour in each each half with a 30 min interval, so perfectly do-able if you don't go to opera that much.
I was there this evening too. I was surprised by that reaction as, while Radvanovsky sang it well, I didn't find the aria itself much to write home about. In fact I felt what this evening lacked was Puccini! Giordano's music was never less than pleasant, & rose to excitement when appropriate, but I didn't feel it had quite the memorability or heartbreaking quality of the best composers, though the cast gave their all. Great performances from the large cast, especially Alagna, Radvanovsky & Platinas in the leading roles. I thought it was a lovely traditional production (with nothing important missed from side stalls circle!) & I do enjoy a nice traditional production with white wigs & knee breeches. The very brief swordfight wasn't a patch on the recent RB R&Js though! And isn't a dancer en pointe anachronistic for 1789?