André Chénier: Poetry on the Guillotine


Across a large, blood-scrawled banner inscribed with the infamous words of Robespierre: Même Platon a banni des poètes de sa République! (Even Plato banished poets from his republic) hung over the stage of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden for the new Sir David McVicar production of the opera, Andrea Chénier, which opened in January 2015, shortly after the tragedy in Paris at Charlie Hebdo, where terrorists massacred twelve members of the publication’s staff for airing their views in print. Suddenly, Giordano’s verismo opera seemed to take on a frighteningly contemporary relevance, with its hero, the 18th century French poet, André Chénier, condemned as much for his writings as his supposed politics, a powerful symbol for freedom of speech and a hymn to poetry as the voice of truth and beauty. Read entire article here. (originally published in Scene 4 Magazine, November 1, 2015)

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