Anna and Anita star in epic opera rivalry

In this 2018 photo, Ambrogio Maestri, from left, as Michonnet, Anita Rachvelishvili as the Princess of Bouillon, and Anna Netrebko as Adriana Lecouvre...

In this 2018 photo, Ambrogio Maestri, from left, as Michonnet, Anita Rachvelishvili as the Princess of Bouillon, and Anna Netrebko as Adriana Lecouvre...

NEW YORK (AP) — Two reigning divas will be squaring off against each other starting New Year's Eve in the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Francesco Cilea's "Adriana Lecouvreur."

Russian soprano Anna Netrebko plays the title character, based on a real-life French actress, and Georgian mezzo Anita Rachvelishvili is her romantic rival, the Principessa di Bouillon. According to legend, the Principessa gets rid of the competition by sending her a bouquet of poisoned violets.

For Rachvelishvili, portraying "a cold-blooded killer" is a challenge because "it's not in me at all."

Netrebko says she relishes playing the title character because "the audience will suffer for her because she's ruined by the Principessa."

The David McVicar production, also starring tenor Piotr Beczala, will be broadcast live in HD to movie theaters worldwide on Jan. 12.

The Metropolitan Opera is based in New York City.