Major Operas | Andrea Chénier by Umberto Giordano | Turn of the Century

Composed: 1896
Premiered: 1896, Milan
Libretto by Luigi Illica

Act I

During the early days of the French Revolution, Gérard, a servant, is secretly in love with Maddalena, daughter of the Contessa de Coigny. Among the guests at the contessa’s soirée is the poet Andrea Chénier. The other guests are offended by his call for liberty, but Maddalena is intrigued. The soirée is broken up by a mob of peasants led by Gérard, who tears off his livery. The contessa orders them to leave and the dancing begins again.

Act II

Chénier has become disillusioned by the years of the Terror. He is recognized by Bersi, Maddalena’s maid, who joins the crowd following condemned prisoners. Roucher brings him a passport and advises him to leave France, but he is anxious to learn the identity of someone signing herself ‘Hope’ who wishes to see him tonight. Gérard, now a sans-culotte, still wants Maddalena. She reveals herself to Chénier as ‘Hope’ and begs for his protection. Gérard tries to abduct Maddalena and is wounded by Chénier. Maddalena escapes with Roucher. Gérard has recognized Chénier but claims he does not know his assailant.


Chénier has been arrested. Gérard reflects that he is now a slave to his passion for Maddalena. She comes to Gérard and tells him how her mother died and her home was destroyed. She offers to give herself to Gérard if he will save Chénier. At Chénier’s trial, Gérard attempts to withdraw all the charges against him, but he is still condemned to execution.

Act IV

Chénier is in the St Lazare prison. Gérard brings in Maddalena, who bribes the gaoler to substitute her for another of the prisoners. Gérard leaves them to make a final appeal to Robespierre. They are taken to the guillotine together.

Personalities | Umberto Giordano | Turn of the Century | Opera


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