<< -- 3 -- Robert Hugill CASTING FROM STRENGTH
In this context, it is worth bearing in mind that in La Bohème (an equally short opera) Puccini restricts himself to just ten characters (including very minor ones) and by the end of the opera he and his librettists ensure that we feel we know the six principals quite well. In Andrea Chénier we only really come to know the three principals and all the remaining twelve characters remain on the fringes.
Giordano's orchestration can be heavy and bold with quite a bit of brass, certainly the score is something for the orchestra to get their teeth into and they responded in spades. There were moments, though, when I felt that Brad Cohen gave the orchestra a little to much head and the soloists were sometimes covered at climaxes.
From the first, tricky moments of the opening prelude the orchestra were attentive to Brad Cohen's direction and gave a superb performance. Like his more famous contemporary Puccini, Giordano is fond of passages of swift dialogue where the main melodic interest is in the orchestra. This is an opera where the orchestra can become a partner to the singers rather than just an accompanist and the Chelsea Opera Group orchestra was on brilliant form.
Andrea Chénier will never become a regular repertory piece, but with a strong, balanced cast Chelsea Opera Group under Brad Cohen made a strong case for the work's inclusion in the repertoire.