France is on the brink of revolution as servants have become fed up with the nobility. While at a party hosted by the Countess de Coigny, the servant Carlo Gerard has reached his breaking point and he interrupts the party with other servants who force the people to leave the party. Andrea Chenier, a poet, has attended this party and has been outspoken about how he dislikes the riches treatment of the poor, and he leaves with the servants. Years later, with the revolution fully underway, Maddalena de Coigny is the only surviving member of her family, her house has been burned down, and her servant, Bersi, has had to sell her body to buy food for the two of them. Maddalena must also hide from the revolutionaries as she fears for her life. Bersi finds Chenier, who is now in hiding due to suspicion that he is a counter-revolutionary, one day and tells him that a mysterious woman is coming to speak to him, the woman is none other than Maddalena. The two express rapturous love for one another and pledge their devotion to death. The two are overseen by a Spy for Gerard who quickly runs to get Gerard so that he can deal with Chenier. Gerard appears and he and Chenier both draw their swords. Maddalena is taken from the danger by Chenier’s friend Roucher, and Chenier injures Gerard.
Gerard seeks revenge against Chenier, driven by an immense love for Maddalena. Gerard writes a false accusation of Chenier, who is later captured. Will Gerard regain his honor? Will Chenier be found innocent? Can Maddalena save her lover Chenier?
With its intense themes of love, and revolution and Giordano’s wondrous score Andrea Chenier has long been one of opera’s most beloved pieces. It has been a major vehicle for star tenors in the lead role such as Enrico Caruso, Franco Corelli, and Mario del Monaco. The score is dramatically demanding and requires voices that can carry over a large orchestra, but with musical moments like Chenier and Maddalena’s final duet Vicino a te s’aqueta audiences cannot get enough of Andrea Chenier.