Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Pacific Opera Project Recreates Mozart and Salieri Contest

On February 7, 1786, Emperor Joseph II of Austria had brand new one-act operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri performed in the Schönbrunn Palace’s Orangery.

Powerful chemistry in La Cenerentola in Cologne

Those poor opera lovers in Cologne have a never ending problem with the city’s opera house. Together with the rest of city, the construction of the new opera house is mired in political incompetence.

Tannhäuser: Royal Opera House, London

London remains starved of Wagner. This season, its major companies offer but two works, Tannhäuser from the Royal Opera and Tristan from ENO.

The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf

Dmitry Bertman’s hilarious staging of Rimsky-Korsakov’s political sex-comedy The Golden Cockerel in Düsseldorf.

San Diego Opera Presents a Tragic Madama Butterfly

On April 16, 2016, San Diego Opera presented Giacomo Puccini’s sixth opera, Madama Butterfly, in an intriguing production by Garnett Bruce. Roberto Oswald’s scenery included the usual Japanese styled house with many sliding doors and walls. On either side, however, were blooming cherry trees with rough trunks and gnarled branches that looked as though they had been growing on the property for a hundred years.

Simon Rattle conducts Tristan und Isolde

New Co-Production Tristan und Isolde with Metropolitan: Simon Rattle and Westbroek electrify Treliński’s Opera-Noir.

San Jose’s Smooth Streetcar Ride

In an operatic world crowded with sure-fire bread and butter repertoire, Opera San Jose has boldly chosen to lavish a new production on a dark horse, Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire.

Roméo et Juliette: Dutch National Opera and Ballet seal merger with leaden Berlioz

Choral symphony, oratorio, symphonic poem — Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette does not fit into any mould. It has the potential to work as an opera-ballet, but incoherent storytelling and uninspired conducting undermined this production.

Donizetti : Lucia di Lammermoor, Royal Opera House

When Kasper Holten took the precaution of pre-warning ticket-holders that the Royal Opera House’s new production of Lucia di Lammermoor featured scene portraying ‘sexual acts’ and ‘violence’, one assumed that he was aiming to avert a re-run of the jeering and hectoring that accompanied last season’s Guillaume Tell. He even went so far as to offer concerned patrons a refund.

Five Reviews of Regina at Maryland Opera Studio

These are five very different reviews by students at the University of Maryland on its Opera Studio production of Regina — an interesting, informative and entertaining read . . .

Three Cheers for the English Touring Opera

‘Remember me, the one who is Pia;/ Siena made me, Maremma undid me.’ The speaker is Pia de’ Tolomei. She appears in a brief episode of Dante’s Divine Comedy (Purgatorio V, 130-136) which was the source for Gaetano Donizetti’s Pia de’ Tolomei - by way of Bartolomeo Sestini’s verse-novella of 1825.

Andriessen's De Materie at the Park Avenue Armory

"The large measure of formalism which forms the basis of De Materie does not in itself offer any guarantee that the work will be beautiful," says Dutch composer Louis Andriessen of his four-movement opera.

Falstaff Makes a Big Splash in Phoenix

On April 1, 2016, Arizona Opera presented Falstaff by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) and Arrigo Boito (1842-1918) in Phoenix. Although Boito based most of his libretto on Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, he used material from Henry IV as well. Verdi wrote the music when he was close to the age of eighty. He was concerned about his ability at that advanced age, but he was immensely pleased with Boito’s text and decided to compose his second comedy, despite the fact that his first, Un giorno di regno, had not been successful.

Svadba in San Francisco

The brand new SF Opera Lab opened last month with artist William Kentridge’s staged Schubert Winterreise. Its second production just now, Svadba-Wedding — an a cappella opera for six female voices — unabashedly exposes the space in a different, non-theatrical configuration.

Benvenuto Cellini in Rome

One may think of Tosca as the most Roman of all operas, after all it has been performed at the Teatro Costanzi (Rome’s opera house) well over a thousand times since 1900. Though equally, maybe even more Roman is Hector Berlioz’ Benvenuto Cellini that has had only a dozen or so performances in Rome since 1838.

Handel : Elpidia - Opera Settecento

Roll up! A new opera by Handel is to be performed, L’Elpidia overo li rivali generosi. It is based upon a libretto by Apostolo Zeno with music by Leonardo Vinci - excepting a couple of arias by Giuseppe Orlandini and, additionally, two from Antonio Lotti’s Teofane (which the star bass, Giuseppe Maria Boschi , on bringing with him from the Dresden production of 1719).

Roberto Devereux in Genova

Radvanovsky in New York, Devia in Genoa — Donizetti queens are indeed in the news! Just now in Genoa Mariella Devia was the Elizabeth I for her beloved Roberto Devereux in a new trilogy of Donizetti queens (Maria Stuarda and Anne Bolena) directed by baritone Alfonso Antoniozzi.

The Importance of Being Earnest, Royal Opera

‘All men become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That is his.’ ‘Is that clever?’ ‘It is perfectly phrased!’

Mahler’s Third, Concertgebouw

Evolving in Mahler’s Third: Dudamel and L.A. Philharmonic’s impressive adaption to the Concertgebouw

La Juive in Lyon

Though all big opera is called grand opera, French grand opera itself is a very specific genre. It is an ephemeral style not at all easy to bring to life. For example . . .

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

Gloria Banditelli
04 Jun 2008

Handel's Rodrigo — Ensemble San Felice, St John’s Smith Square, London

Handel’s Rodrigo, subtitled ‘Vincer se stesso è la maggior vittoria’ (Self-conquest is the greater victory) is one of the composer’s earliest operatic works, and rarely heard.

G. F. Handel: Rodrigo

Gloria Banditelli (Rodrigo), Laura Cherici (Esilena), Annamaria dell’Oste (Florinda), Leonardo De Lisi (Giuliano), Susanna Ricci (Evanco), Caterina Calvi (Fernando), Ensemble San Felice, Federico Bardazzi (cond.)

Above: Gloria Banditelli

 

It was extensively revised between the completion of the autograph score and its 1707 première in Florence, and large sections of both versions were subsequently lost. It would appear that the revisions for the Florence production were to the detriment of the piece, and thanks to the discovery in 1983 of a substantial amount of lost material from the autograph (as well as a certain amount of editorial license to recreate missing recitatives, and the loan of a couple of numbers from Handel’s other operas) Alan Curtis’s performing edition — given here in London by a Florentine ensemble as part of the Lufthansa Baroque Festival — is based on Handel’s original intentions.

The story is loosely based on that of an actual 8th-century Spanish king and conqueror, whose political victories were complicated by his apparent inability to be faithful to his wife. In the libretto (by Silvani, and originally set a few years earlier by Marc’Antonio Ziani) Rodrigo has seduced the impressionable young Florinda with the promise of a throne, consequently fathered her a child, and then reneged on his offer. She is left furious, disgraced and bent on revenge, while Rodrigo goes back to his rightful queen, the saintly but childless Esilena, who understandably is deeply distressed by the whole situation. Esilena’s constancy in the face of marital wrongdoing is, in the end, the salvation of all concerned (along with a convenient eleventh-hour plot development whereby Florinda gets a better offer and gives Rodrigo up for good).

Acts 2 and 3 contain some interesting and original numbers — a lovely lute serenade for the soprano secondo uomo, Evanco, and a fragment of a tenor aria (for Giuliano, Florinda’s brother) with a quirky bassoon obbligato, which is cut off by an advance in the plot just as it reaches the B section. The same cannot be said for the first act, where nearly every aria is one of anger, vengeance or war — each individual aria certainly gives the singer scope to demonstrate mettlesome coloratura technique, but an entire act full of identical numbers is rather tiresome, especially when there’s little variety in tessitura (the lowest voice in the cast being a tenor) and when only a couple of the voices were really worth such extended display.

The finest vocal performer by a long way was the soprano Laura Cherici who sang Esilena; her soft-grained tone had a liquid beauty which portrayed the wronged queen ideally, and her one fast aria was sung with exceptional flare. In the title role, the mezzo Gloria Banditelli was disappointing — her singing was accurate and attractive, but it was not a heroic voice. Here in London we are so blessed with regular access to good heroic Handelian mezzos that I fear we take them for granted.

Other than that, not a great deal of the singing was to be recommended; Annamaria dell’Oste’s Florinda was impressive in her agility and force of delivery, but she had a tendency to go sharp. In fact, there were intonation problems from the majority, and the contralto Caterina Calvi (in the virtually unnecessary role of Fernando) sounded as though she should have been at home with laryngitis, though no announcement was made to this effect. There was some exceptionally fine instrumental playing, however — especially from the continuo cellist and lutenist. Federico Bardazzi was the conductor.

Though Luciano Alberti’s semi-staging — against a backdrop of projected line-drawings of the original 1707 production — was fairly rudimentary, a fair amount of (dare I say somewhat misplaced) effort had obviously been made with Enrico Coveri Maison’s costume designs, which attempted to replicate the styles and shapes shown in the projected images. They were a typically early-18th-century take on costumes for an opera set in the 8th century, but coloured in a lurid array of much more modern cerises, turquoises and oranges.

Ruth Elleson © 2008

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):