The actress Adriana has been waiting for news from her beloved Maurizio for the past four years, and tonight he is here at the theatre to see her perform. They are supposed to meet after the performance, but Maurizio has been called away on political business. Instead, Adriana will attend the Prince’s party where she can talk to the Count of Saxony on behalf of Maurizio.
At the Prince’s party, however, everything Adriana thought she knew about Maurizio is turned upside-down. First, he is rumored to have a secret lover, whom Adriana is sure is the Princess de Bouillon. Secondly, it turns out that Maurizio is the Count of Saxony himself. Heartbroken, betrayed, and devastated, Adriana takes the stage at the party and delivers a monologue from Phedra, clearly telling the Princess that she knows everything about their affair, before making a swift exit.
Alone at home and unable to shake her heartbreak, Adriana gratefully receives a visit from her colleagues at the Comédie-Française. She resolves to take up her place on the stage once more, and to have her vengeance on Maurizio through her art. An anonymous package arrives, containing the posy she gave Maurizio as a favor. She smells its dried petals before throwing it into the fire. Maurizio himself arrives shortly after the package, but it is too late: the dried flowers were poisoned, and Adriana dies in his arms.
Francesco Cilea’s beautiful retelling of the death of the French actress Adrienne Lecouvrer remains a firm favorite in the operatic canon.
Adriana Lecouvreur guide sections