Adriana Lecouvreur offers a fictionalised account of a real 18th-century French actress of the same name, leading lady of the Comédie-Française in Paris, who was believed to have been poisoned by a love rival. It is the most famous work of Francesco Cilea, a major contemporary of Puccini.
In the opera Lecouvreur is the victim of the jealous Princess of Bouillon, who envies her relationship with a handsome Count. The glamorous star lives a life of high drama on and off stage until she dies by sniffing a posy of poisoned violets.
First performed in 1902, the opera blends personal and political intrigue in 1730s Paris in music of extraordinary warmth, finesse and grand passions.