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

40 minutes with Barbara Hannigan...in rehearsal

One of the initiatives for the community at the Lucerne Festival is the ‘40 min’ series. A free concert given before the evening’s main event that ranges from chamber music to orchestral rehearsals.

Prom 54 - Mozart's Last Year with the Budapest Festival Orchestra

The mysteries and myths surrounding Mozart’s Requiem Mass - left unfinished at his death and completed by his pupil, Franz Xaver Süssmayr - abide, reinvigorated and prolonged by Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus as directed on film by Miloš Forman. The origins of the work’s commission and composition remain unknown but in our collective cultural and musical consciousness the Requiem has come to assume an autobiographical role: as if Mozart was composing a mass for his own presaged death.

High Voltage Tosca in Cologne

I saw two operas consecutively at Oper Koln. First, the utterly bewildering Lucia di Lammermoor; then Thilo Reinhardt’s thrilling Tosca. His staging was pure operatic joy with some Hitchcockian provocations.

Haitink at the Lucerne Festival

Bernard Haitink’s monumental Bruckner and Mahler performances with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) got me hooked on classical music. His legendary performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C-minor, where in the Finale loosened plaster fell from the Concertgebouw ceiling, is still recounted in Amsterdam.

BBC Prom 45 - Janáček: The Makropulos Affair

Karita Mattila was born to sing Emilia Marty, the diva around whom revolves Leoš Janáček's The Makropulos Affair (Věc Makropulos). At Prom 45, she shone all the more because she was conducted by Jirí Belohlávek and performed alongside a superb cast from the National Theatre, Prague, probably the finest and most idiomatic exponents of this repertoire.

Two Tales of Offenbach: Opera della Luna at Wilton's Music Hall

‘Two outrageous operas in one crazy evening,’ reads the bill. Hyperbole? Certainly not when the operas are two of Jacques Offenbach’s more off-the-wall bouffoneries and when the company is Opera della Luna whose artistic director, Jeff Clarke, is blessed with the comic imagination and theatrical nous to turn even the most vacuous trivia into a sharp and sassy riotous romp.

Britten Untamed! Glyndebourne: A Midsummer Night's Dream

This performance of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream at Glyndebourne was so good that it was the highlight of the whole season, making the term ‘revival’ utterly irrelevant. Jakub Hrůša is always stimulating, but on this occasion, his conducting was so inspired that I found myself closing my eyes in order to concentrate on what he revealed in Britten's quirky but brilliant score. Eyes closed in this famous production by Peter Hall, first seen in 1981?

Salzburg encores

A staged piano recital and an opera as a concert.  Pianist András Schiff accompanied the Salzburg Marionette Theater at the Mozarteum Grosser Saal and Anna Netrebko sang Manon Lescaut at the Grosses Festspielhaus.

Leah Crocetto at Santa Fe

On August 4, 2016, soprano Leah Crocetto and accompanist Tamara Sanikidze gave a recital at the Scottish Rite Center in Santa Fe New Mexico. A winner of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions and the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Contest, this year Crocetto was singing Donna Anna in Santa Fe Opera’s excellent Don Giovanni.

Angela Meade at Sante Fe

On July 31, 2016, against the ethereal beauty of the main hall in the Scottish Rite Center, soprano Angela Meade and pianist Joe Illick gave a recital offering both opera and art songs ranging in origin from early nineteenth century Europe to mid twentieth century America. Many in the audience probably remembered Meade’s recent excellent portrayal of Norma at Los Angeles Opera.

Turco in Italia in Pesaro

When more is definitely more, and less would indeed be less. Two of the biggest names in Italian theater art collide in an eponymous theater.

Proms Chamber Music 5: Shakespeare at 400

It was the fifth Proms Chamber Music concert at Cadogan Hall this season, and we were celebrating Shakespeare’s 400th. And, given the extent and range of the composers and artists, and the diversity and profundity of the musical achievement inspired by the Bard, we could probably keep celebrating in this fashion ad infinitum.

La donna del lago in Pesaro

Each August the bleak and leaky, 12,000 seat Arena Adriatica (home of the famed Pesaro basketball team) magically transforms itself into an improvised opera house that boasts the ultimate in opera chic — exemplary Rossini production standards for its now twelve hundred seats.

Proms at … Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

This highly enjoyable Prom, part of 2016’s ‘Proms at …’ mini-series, took as its guiding concept the reopening of London’s theatres following the Restoration, focusing in particular upon musical and dramatic responses to Shakespeare. Purcell, rightly, loomed large, with John Blow and Matthew Locke joining him. Receiving their Proms premieres were the excerpts from Timon of Athens and those from Locke’s The Tempest.

Santa Fe: Straussian Sweet Nothings

With all the bombast of the presidential campaigns rattling in our heads, with invectives being exchanged and measured discussion all but absent, how utterly lovely to retreat and relax into the harmonious soundscape and well-reasoned debate posed in Strauss’ Capriccio, on magnificent display at Santa Fe Opera.

Santa Fe’s Civil War Gounod

When we entered the Crosby Theatre for Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette the stage was surprisingly dominated by a somber, semi-circular black mausoleum, many chambers inscribed with scrambled names of US Civil War era dead.

Coolly Elegant Vanessa in the Desert

Molten passions were seething just below the icy Nordic exterior of Santa Fe Opera’s wholly masterful production of Barber’s Vanessa.

Le Comte Ory, Seattle

Farce is probably the most difficult of dramatic comedy sub-genres to put across. A farce got up in the stately robes of opera sets its presenters an even higher bar. Presenting an operatic farce on a notoriously chilly and cavernous auditorium is to risk catastrophe.

Racette’s Golden Girl in New Mexico

Fan interest began raging when Santa Fe Opera engaged venerable artist Patricia Racette to make her role debut as Minnie in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West.

Santa Fe’s Mozart Cast Sweeps All Before It

A funny thing happened on the way to Andalusia.

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):