Alfano: Cyrano de Bergerac

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Cyrano de Bergerac
PERFORMER: Plácido Domingo, Sondra Advanovsky, Arturo Chacon Cruz, Rod Gilfry, Corrado Carmelo Caruso, Roberto Accurso, Javier Franco, Itxaro Mentxaka, Nahuel di Pierro; Valencia Generalitat Chorus; Valencia Community Orchestra/Patrick Fournillier; dir. Michal Znaniencki
CATALOGUE NO: 2.110270 (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16:9 picture format)


Franco Alfano’s Cyrano de Bergerac has done remarkably well of late. Not long ago the composer was remembered chiefly for completing Act III of Puccini’s Turandot, but ever since Roberto Alagna and Plácido Domingo took a shine to the swordsman-poet with the legendary nose, productions have proliferated. Now Alfano needs stars of comparable stature to show an interest in La leggenda di Sakùntala and Risurrezione – though perhaps that would be more Alfano than we really want.

It is easy to be dismissive about Cyrano, an impossibly wordy opera that finds the ultra-Italian composer grappling with a quintessentially French libretto. Not so much Puccini-meets-Debussy as Giordano-meets-Dukas, the work is doomed because the beauty of Rostand’s original play is in the words, and music, especially third-rate music, is superfluous. But if the generic Act III battle resembles Les Mis without the tunes, there are genuinely touching scenes, such as a ‘balcony’ scene and Cyrano’s death.

Indeed, Domingo is unquestionably moving and makes a good case for having added the title role to his huge gallery of characters; his dark tone can still be thrilling and he is a more committed actor than many of his colleagues. As least Sondra Radvanovsky matches him as a spirited Roxane, using her gleaming soprano to musical effect.


Michal Znaniecki’s traditionally costumed production, filmed in Valencia in 2007, is less lavish than Francesca Zambello’s for the Met and Covent Garden, but it works effectively enough in tandem with Patrick Fournillier’s light-textured conducting. John Allison