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Rodelinda, regina de' Langobardi

by George Frideric Handel

Glyndebourne Festival Opera


Andreas Scholl as Bertarido

Clip info: Dove Sei, Bertarido's Act 1 aria (text here) in which he cries out to Rodelinda, the beloved wife whom he thinks he has lost for ever, to come to him and ease his distress.  From the CD Handel: Ombra mai fu © 1999 harmonia mundi.

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Glyndebourne Production at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, 2002

REVIEW 1 : Music to live for

Watching the video of the 1998 Glyndebourne production of Rodelinda, I had appreciated the simplicity of the plot, which leaves much space for the psychological analysis of the characters, but still I considered these characters rather like epitomes: the noble-hearted king, the faithful wife, the usurper and his wicked right-hand man, the faithful counsellor...  but in Paris I saw human beings.  I saw suffering and joy in their eyes, I saw their lips tremble, their breasts quiver, their faces darkened by rage, jealousy and pain and brightened by love and relief.  Obviously, it is a big difference to see the drama live, in the flesh.  Watching the video, after Paris, is like looking at a postcard of a beautiful place once visited: you see bright colours, a beautiful landscape – but it lacks the sensation of breathing the air and feeling the ground of the place itself, under your feet.  But this is only one difference between Paris and the video: in Paris, I felt that the performance of the whole cast had matured a lot compared with 1998.   Generally speaking, it seemed to me that Villégier's direction for the Paris production had gained more relief, probably to increase the dramatic tension, as at the end of the duet scene when Bertarido abruptly turns from his wife and leaves the stage alone – quite different from the video. There was no major change in the interpretations, but the characters had gained somehow in humanity.  I did not simply see excellent actors bearing the mask of a Handelian character.  I saw completely human people, fighting, suffering, loving and expressing all shades of human feeling, from the brightest to the darkest.  Light and shadow is the leitmotiv that comes to my mind when I remember this superb production.  Although I went primarily for the singing, I was utterly fascinated by the bewitching, plastic beauty of the scenery and, above all, of the lighting.  If my visual memories of the show diminish, over time, to a few, isolated images, some scenes will stay graven in my memory like a series a of chiaroscuro paintings.
The stage was bathed in dream-like twilight, diffuse and winding, following and capturing the actors' bodies in motion, giving every move or posture an extraordinary dynamic and emotional tension, as with Bertarido’s arrest, when Rodelinda finds herself in a nightmare setting, surrounded by the dark figures of the soldiers outlined by a pale halo, and facing the tyrant Grimoaldo, who grabs her head in both his hands in a terrible gesture of arrogant domination and violence, intensified by the striking contrast between the lights converging on the dominating character and the dark shade all around.  This contrast is even more striking in the next emotional climax, in Act lll, when the light follows and seizes the wrestling bodies of Grimoaldo und Garibaldo, the latter struggling against his master to force him to execute Bertarido, and Grimoaldo struggling both against Garibaldo's influence and against his own contradictions.  In the background, the shade gradually enlightens, revealing the tragic figure of Bertarido, motionless, his head hang limply as he waits for the final blow of destiny.  My whole body tensed during this scene and I grabbed so violently at my necklace that I almost strangled myself and had to restrain myself from jumping over the orchestra pit and snatch the weapon from Garibaldo's hand!
There were times, though, when the light turned to a soft and comforting glimmer, as with the lighted windows in the aria Con rauco mormorio. And yet this light brought no comfort but only made the darkness deeper for the man who had lost everything and felt a stranger in his own land, the blind beggar, Bertarido.  This was a setting both mysterious and familiar, timeless and utterly modern, where light and darkness are intimately blended and yet in constant opposition, reflecting the characters' conflicts.  In this profusion of visual memories there is an image that I will hold and cherish all my life and which I still see it today, as if it were unfolding before my eyes. During the climactically poignant duet, Io t’abbraccio, when Rodelinda's and Bertarido's hands finally touch after a long-drawn-out ‘distant embrace’, I could see William Christie’s hand gently rising and falling, just between their embracing arms - and a ray of light falling right in the middle.  I still get goose bumps when I think of it.  I tried to describe my impressions of it to a friend who had been sitting elsewhere in the auditorium, but she stopped me abruptly after a few words.  “Unbearable,” she said.
My non-existent technical knowledge of music did not allow me to identify any technical weakness or lack of co-ordination between orchestra and singers.  All I can say about the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Christie, is that they gave me an excellent overall impression, and to judge by the formidable ovation that William Christie and the musicians received at the end, it was plainly clear that their interpretation was not at all perceived as "meek" (sorry to contradict you, Mr. Gnomic Altamusica Reviewer). Their tone was gorgeous and their tempi sometimes took my breath away.  From the second they launched into the overture, I was immersed in Handel's world until the last note died away.   After Act I, I could hardly separate the singing from the orchestra, so harmonious was the fusion between all the elements of this production: voices, instruments, gestures, lighting … like a broad stream which just carried you away.  And I dare to believe that this is not only due to my ignorance.  Sitting in the centre of the third row, I could observe closely Christie's conducting and was fascinated by the simplicity and distinction of his every gesture.  I always appreciate conductors who keep an intense eye contact with their orchestra instead of gesticulating, and I was close enough to the orchestra to study the faces of the musicians and could read the intensity of Christie's glance on them.
It is extremely difficult, even with the benefit of hindsight, to explain what happened when Andreas Scholl appeared on the stage. The answer lies maybe in the silence, or the quality of silence, that followed his Dove sei.   It had nothing to do with this usual "floating moment" of confusion following the first significant aria, when the audience has not warmed up yet and still hesitate to express loudly their feelings.  No, this was a deep, contemplative silence, still vibrating with as his last notes faded.  A silence thick with sheer astonishment and admiration, a silence much more eloquent that an instant outburst of enthusiasm. The applause itself was soon to come and it was tremendous.  I cannot remember any other moment or aria that evening which aroused such a strong reaction in the audience, except Vivi tiranno.
Andreas Scholl’s stage presence was simply phenomenal.  What struck me most about his new stage skill was the simplicity of his body language.  He did not have to gesticulate and pace around on the stage to be expressive - quite the contrary.  I hardly exaggerate if I say that he only had to put his foot on the stage to stop the show – he entered and there he was: King Bertarido.  Each of his appearances was surrounded by something very special and numinous, a kind a magnetism, or as a other reviewer put it, electricity – an aura of nobility which gave his individual gestures weight and emotional power.  His royal bearing never flagged, whether he stood beside his own funeral monument, gripping the funeral wreath in a gesture of grief and anger, or knelt in the dungeon, struck with pain and despair, or stood up facing the tyrant Grimoaldo in Vivi tiranno – probably the scene when his physical presence was the most tremendous.  I still can see him, with his shoulders pulled back and trembling with fury, dominating the whole stage, to the extent of reducing all other characters around to mere extras, His look never lost its fire.  In the words of Marie-Aude Roux of Le Monde: “The King never lost his crown".
And this, in my view, is a major difference from the video performance.  On the video, I saw Bertarido primarily as a tragic character who endured the blows of his destiny – and we had to wait until his liberation, the changing clothes scene in Act II, when he evokes a wild beast freed off its chains, as he raises his head and takes his destiny in his hands.  In Paris, I was struck to see how much deeper was Andreas Scholl’s interpretation. His acting revealed Bertarido's character in all its human dimension and complexity, a character both luminous and tragic, as Mrs Roux so rightly says.  Bertarido, initially overwhelmed by grief, moved the audience to tears in his lament arias, and at the same time it was obvious (even to someone who didn't know the story) that it was the same Bertarido who held the key to the plot and had the resources to reverse the direction of the wheel of fate.   His Confusa si miri, when he gives free expression to the torment of his heart, was especially strikingly expressive, showing both the weakness (the jealousy and despair) and the strength (the faith and virtue) of Bertarido's indomitable heart.  It is probably a euphemism to say that Andreas Scholl’s marvellous acting was perfectly matched by his superb singing – but what else can I say?  After some particularly outstanding performances of the past, I have said things like "he could not have sung it better " or "his voice today reached a level of purity and perfection which simply cannot be surpassed" – and every time Andreas Scholl proved me wrong.  Paris was the same.  Again I was amazed, as if I had discovered a depth, a new dimension in his singing, which I had never suspected before.  The emotional tension which he developed in Dove sei was extraordinary, especially in his second "Vieni…" in Dove Sei, when his voice rises and swells mightily, unfolding the power of Bertarido’s longing for his beloved wife, and then releases the tension again with the infinite tenderness of the very last words "… a consolar", a delivery so pure that you could not even perceive the moment when the note died away and yielded to silence.  I knew the aria by heart and I knew his voice, but I was riveted to my seat and simply gaped, like the people around me.
During Confusa si miri, in which dramatic emphasis clearly dominates over pure vocal virtuosity and beautiful singing, I was more able to measure how much richer his voice has become since his first Handel recording, and the musical intelligence with which he uses his now much wider range of expression and palette of colours. The way, for example, he varied intonation and volume when hammering the phrase “cosi mi diride" and the way he stretched the word "morte" was masterly in its expression of every facet of Bertarido's complex feelings – anger and pain, love and jealousy.
As for Con rauco mormorio… I have sometimes said that I would swap any opera for the most humble Passion aria.  At least, that is what I thought before seeing this Rodelinda.  In the same way, I could add that I would swap any aria di bravura against these few minutes of bliss. When you hear these lingering, flickering low notes, so pure, so soft, so beautifully echoed by the instruments, you just feel like closing your eyes and holding out your hands to catch the soothing freshness of stream and fountains…  I was dismayed by the absence of reaction from the audience, who, like the mainstream audience in general, seemed to measure the beauty of an aria by its decibel level, applying the same criteria as the wider cinema audience: the more noise, extras and lights on the stage, the more powerful and virtuoso the voice, the more thunderous applause you get.
This is not to say, of course, that the explosion of enthusiasm at Andreas Scholl’s Vivi tiranno was not deserved.  Quite the contrary.  Looking back on it, this aria was a superb illustration of what Andreas Scholl said in his France Musiques interview, speaking about his development as a singer: how he does not want to be just a pure, beautiful voice, but to find and develop new techniques of expression.  Judging by his performance in Paris, I think music lovers can look forward to the future and rub their hands in expectation.  In Vivi tiranno, his interpretation and ornamentation were clearly not focused on mere vocal beauty, but on making of this operatic tour de force what it should be – not singing to the gallery but the emotional climax of the whole opera.  In it, all the fears, tensions and hopes accumulated throughout the story in progress suddenly burst out.  You could hear angry breath in his voice and feel the pulse of his anger and revulsion in every word throughout the endless streams of coloraturas.
I remember a review from the time of the Glyndebourne premiere in 1998, which said that while Anna Caterina Antonacci had convinced with both her acting and her singing, Andreas Scholl had done so only with his singing.  From today's perspective, such comparison would not only be plain wrong but it would not make sense at all. The success and the beauty of the Paris production relied entirely on the perfect balance and interaction between Scholl’s and Antonacci's abilities.

I was very eager to see whether Antonacci would impress me as much on the stage as on the television screen - in a live performance you can watch an actor's performance in detail without being guided by the indulgent eye of the camera.  The word "impressive" is quite insufficient to describe this woman's physical ascendancy on stage. I have a particularly strong memory of the scene in Act II when she appears for the first time in her white queen's dress, while Eduige is singing.  Her beauty was so striking that you could feel the audience focus on her and, at that moment, I would not have been surprised if Eduige had stopped singing, the musicians lowered their bows and the whole audience got to their feet out of respect.

Interestingly, she is not the kind of singer who appeals to me instantly.  When I first saw the video I was unpleasantly surprised by the low tone of her soprano voice but I gradually revised my judgement and in Paris, finally, I found her singing superb and profoundly moving, especially in her lament arias, when she mourns her apparently dead husband.  Like Andreas Scholl, she excels in expressing affliction and suffering without ever altering her noble bearing.  (I like very much the description of her by Mrs Roux whom I cannot praise enough.  This in striking contrast to her gnomic colleagues, for she listens and appreciates music with her brain and her heart and does not sound as if she is testing a new Audi gearbox.)   Antonacci’s is a voice sometimes lacking a little in flexibility and nuances but so emotionally powerful.  I like especially the warm glow she has in the low register, and her low voice matches beautifully the outstanding strength of this superb, royal, Handelian character.  There is one particular aspect of her singing where, for me, she surpassed the whole cast, and I am not speaking of mere plastic beauty. There was a critic who wrote (in 1998) that it was a pleasure to hear Italian opera music sung by an Italian. I did not see really the point of this remark until I heard Antonacci perform in Paris. There were moments when she was not only a singer but also a goldsmith of words.  Every word she pronounced and moulded had the same relief as the feelings and expressions she sang, her words were caressing or sharp, swollen with tears or beaming with joy.
The exceptional harmony that Andreas Scholl and Anna Caterina Antonacci achieved in the balance of their singing and acting struck me even more in Paris than on the video, and their Act II duet was the much-anticipated vocal and emotional treasure of this opera. It was obvious from the very first notes of Io t’abbraccio that their interpretation and engagement with this music had deepened a lot since 1998 and it seemed to me that the blend of their voices had still improved.  However, this was the last objective thought I can remember thinking at the time because my eyes blurred and my heart almost stopped beating.
I'm afraid I have already written much too much, but it would be unfair not to praise the other singers' contributions, with a special mention for Kurt Streit. I found his performance really thrilling and it was all the more surprising for me as he was probably the least likely to convince me.  I am not keen on tenor voices and when I first watched the video, I was slightly irritated by what I thought to be a certain harshness or metallic sound in his voice, a criticism shared by some of the press reviewers I read.   His performance was the subject of radically opposed points of view in the French press. Altamusica calls him contemptuously "ferraillant" (alluding to his alleged metallic sound) while Libération dedicates the title of a whole paragraph to the "royal Kurt Streit". As for me, it struck me in Paris that my reaction to his voice evolved along with the character's development. Looking back on it, I think that Kurt Streit was masterly in using the nuances of his voice to match the ambiguities of Grimoaldo's personality. On the one hand, the tyrant, arrogant and brusque. On the other hand, probably the most human and realistic character, with his dark and bright sides, finally demonstrating that the border between evil and good is not clear.  Interestingly, in the Paris performance he sticks to his tyrant role until the very last note of Andreas Scholl’s furioso aria, Vivi tiranno, pointing at the royal family and ordering the guards to target them, whereas on the video he's transfixed, and you can see from his face what is going on in his soul.  His voice sounded harsh in the first act, but doesn't it suit his character? He was also superb and, yes, "royal" in his contempt and self-assurance – I still hear his "Io sono Re!" resonating, as he assures Garibaldo of his protection. Then comes this scene in Act II when Rodelinda faces him down in his evil, challenging him to kill her son. Rodelinda dominates the whole scene but you can see, suddenly, Grimoaldo's face distorted with dismay and a glimmer of humanity shines through the arrogant mask. This scene is followed by his first elegiac aria when he sings of his true love for Rodelinda and the beauty of the chains which bind him.  His voice grows richer, with an amazing sweetness and fluidity, unveiling a fairly wide range of colours, magnificently highlighted at the end by his lament aria Pastorello d'un povero armento, when he seeks comfort in the soothing coolness of fountains and lawns. And however his mere vocal abilities may be perceived, his fantastic acting performance was above every criticism.
As to Umberto Chiummo's performance, I was fascinated by his mastery of the stage, his nonchalant and feline agility, like a panther. When he rolled his eyes and cast his fiery look on the audience you could feel a shiver of both fear and pleasure run through the people, as in the famous cigarette aria when he smashes his cigarette against the little boy's butterfly, symbolising the brutal murder of an innocent child, using vibrato to accentuate the cruelty of the gesture.  His comic scenes, his intrigues and his confrontation with Bertarido's faithful counsellor, Unulfo, were much appreciated by the audience, all the more remarkable as, in this kind of opera, it is difficult to use comic effects without falling into burlesque or parody. And I enjoyed Chiummo's singing quite a lot too. His voice is sinewy, with a noble and penetrating tone, a timbre as robust and shining as ebony.
Artur Stefanowicz also impressed me with his fluent and assured style, both as an actor and as a singer, and although I am not able to judge his techniques, I think he was in no way a second class countertenor even in comparison with Andreas Scholl.  As for Jean Rigby, I must admit that I did not warm to her singing and even less to her acting throughout the first two acts.  I did miss Louise Winter who was very able to suggest the ambivalence of Eduige’s character without sounding too affected.  In Act III however, when Eduige finally gives up her selfish ambitions to take an active part in Bertarido's liberation and steals weapons under the nose of the guards, Jean Rigby really succeeded in involving the audience in her expressive acting, keeping eye contact with them and making them laugh several times. I guess the audience response must have encouraged her, for her singing also seemed to gain strength and assurance toward the end.
When music moves you to the extent of rendering you speechless, you utter commonplace comments like "This is music to die for".  In the case of the Paris Rodelinda, I must turn the phrase on its head: this is music to live for.  If there is love like the one shared by Rodelinda and Bertarido, stronger than death and woes, and if there is music that makes it accessible and sharable by everyone, then this is music to raise your head and make you shed blissful, thankful tears for having the chance to enjoy such beauty.

Text based on a review by a member of the Andreas Scholl Society

Copyright ©  2000, 2001, 2002 the reviewer, who prefers to remain anonymous

Contact the reviewer

Glyndebourne Production at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, 2002

REVIEW 2 : La belle Rodelinda

Marie-Aude Roux, Le Monde

ILS ONT été le couple de l'année 1987, Jean-Marie Villégier et William Christie, avec cet Atys fameux à l'Opéra-Comique qui marqua d'une pierre blanche les épousailles de l'opéra baroque avec son public. Délices et craintes que de les retrouver dans cette Rodelinda de Haendel montée en 1998 au Festival de Glyndebourne. Car le Châtelet a décidé d'accueillir, outre l'hexagonal Festival des régions - cette année la Lucie de Lammermoor récemment montée à l'Opéra de Lyon -, le plus célèbre des festivals anglais avec deux productions en alternance, Rodelinda et le Fidelio beethovenien.
Comme dans beaucoup d'opéras, le synopsis est d'autant plus compliqué que l'histoire est simple. Il suffit de savoir qu'autour de Rodelinda, épouse fidèle et femme salvatrice (une Andromaque doublée d'une Fidelio avant la lettre), convergent les enjeux d'amour, de pouvoir ou de mort, sous les traits d'une galerie de personnages. Epoux banni présumé défunt à la reconquête de son royaume (Bertarido), tyran usurpateur briguant la couche nuptiale (Grimoaldo), l'un flanqué d'Unulfo, l'autre de Garibaldo - amis intègres et conseillers plus ou moins vertueux ; Eduige (la femme antidote), sœur aimante de l'ancien roi, amante du nouveau roi vainqueur, aux deux, fidèle et félone à la fois.
De cette spirale où s'entremêlent appétits de pouvoir et appétences sexuelles, Villégier a donné une vision hors du temps. "Mythique", à l'image du cinéma américain de l'entre-deux guerres, entre Italie mussolinienne et Hollywood "autrichien" - Stroheim, Sternberg. Un monde intemporel quoique daté, qui a vu la bascule du théâtre dans l'abstraction de l'image et de l'ombre, de la parole dans le mime articulé du cinéma muet - où la musique de Haendel fait ici office de discours. Raffinement discret des décors en noir et blanc, élégance sophistiquée des costumes, dramaturgie des corps à la gestuelle expressionniste, dont la musique serait la vraie, la seule part vivante.
Qu'on se rassure, il y a bien un spectacle dans la salle, mais il agit par distanciation, séduit par détours. Jusque dans le traitement comique, irrésistiblement décalé (un peu à la Buster Keaton) qui affleure çà et là : ainsi le roi exilé reprenant la situation en main sous l'habit d'un Arsène Lupin mâtiné de Zorro ! Qu'on se rassure, il y a aussi un orchestre dans la fosse, des chanteurs sur la scène. La direction de William Christie à la tête du remarquable Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment a elle aussi adopté le parti de la sensation contre celui du sentiment. Chaleureux et vivant comme ces pierres au soleil, chaudes à la main une fois la nuit venue. Quant aux chanteurs, ils forment une pléiade de premier ordre, scéniquement beaux comme des stars de cinéma.
A la très belle Rodelinda d'Anna Caterina Antonacci, la palme de la plasticité scénique, elle dont ramage et plumage sont à l'unisson : une voix au timbre parfois monolithique, mais rompue à toutes les exigences vocales. Royale. En prétendant prédateur, le Grimoaldo de Kurt Streit s'améliore de bout en bout : un peu vert de timbre et dur de ligne dans les vocalises au premier acte, il ne cessera de gagner en prestance, en acuité, en profondeur.
Magnifique bête de scène, le séditieux Garibaldo d'Umberto Chiummo, cynique et joueur, affirme une vraie superbe vocale et un timbre idoine. L'Eduige de Jean Rigby, scéniquement parfaite en mondaine de luxe, manque cependant un peu d'abattage et souffre d'une projection parfois insuffisante dans le medium. Quant aux deux comparses contre-ténors, on saluera la très sensible interprétation d'Artur Stefanowicz en Unulfo, ange gardien du malheureux roi Bertarido incarné par un Andreas Scholl lumineux et tragique à la fois.
Vocalises à couper le souffle, legato de rêve, éblouissement de couleurs, de dynamiques, d'intentions, le roi Scholl n'a jamais quitté un instant sa couronne. Moment magique, le duo d'adieu qui l'unit à Rodelinda à l'acte II et passe dans un souffle, à l'instar de ces trois heures de musique écoutées comme en rêve.
Copyright © 2002 Le Monde

Review 3:
by Luis Gutiérrez , www.laopera.com

El Festival de Glyndebourne presentó este año dos óperas en el Teatro de Música de Paris, en el Chatelet: "Rodelinda" y "Fidelio".

El 13 de febrero de 1725, Handel estrenó "Rodelinda" en el Haymarket Theatre en Londres, en ese entonces sede de la Royal Academy of Music. Esta ópera coronó un período de 12 meses en los cuales el Saxon estrenó tres obras de
arte "Giulio Cesare", "Tamerlano" y "Rodelinda". Estos trabajos representan la cumbre del período de la Royal Academy; Handel debió esperar algunos años para lograr trabajos de calidad similar, cuando a mediados de la década de 1730 presentó "Alcina" y "Ariodante" en Covent Garden.

Los trabajos de 1724-1725 fueron concebidos por Handel con el libretista Nicola Haym y fueron estrenados por el famoso alto castrato Francesco Bernardi, conocido como Senesino, y por la soprano Francesca Cuzzoni. Algunos años más tarde las intrigas entre la Cuzzoni y otra cantante, Faustina Bordoni, serían una causa importante del fracaso final de la Royal Academy.

El libreto de "Rodelinda" está basado en una tragedia de Corneille, "Pertharite, roi des Lombards", y es un típico libreto de opera seria, que contiene un problema dinástico y que termina felizmente.

"Rodelinda" es una opera seria arquetípica desde el punto de vista musical. Se desarrolla en tres actos y consiste de 27 arias, muchas de ellas "da capo", un bello dueto que termina el acto II, y un coro final cantado por los principales. Una receta como esta podría resultar en un espectáculo muy aburrido, pero esta noche descubrí que en algunos casos, muy pocos, el director de escena puede marcar una buena diferencia. Jean-Marie Villégier situó la acción en un set cinematográfico de Cinecittá que recrea a Milán, aunque no en la edad media, sino en los primeros días del fascismo, y todo se desarrolla como si fuera una película muda. Esto tiene el mérito de presentar medios de expresión que pueden estar cercanas a aquellas utilizadas por los cantantes durante el inicio del siglo dieciocho, tales como los gestos de la cara y el cuerpo. El set, vestuario y maquillaje están diseñados principalmente en negro y blanco, como corresponde a una película muda. Si hace dos días yo estaba realmente enojado con la directora de "Don Giovanni", en esta ocasión estuve agradecido y admirando el trabajo de un director de escena verdaderamente original e inteligente como Villégier.

Los intérpretes estuvieron absolutamente fantásticos. La Reina Rodelinda reencarnada en Emma Bell, cuya bella voz de soprano fue capaz de entregar todos los diferentes tipos de arias barrocas asignadas a este papel. Emma es
también una bella actriz que me trajo por momentos a la mente a alguien como Gloria Swanson o como Theda Bara cuando la tragedia llegó al clímax.

El Rey Bertarido fue interpretado por el contratenor alemán Andreas Scholl.
Tengo que confesar que, por primera vez, realmente disfruté de un contratenor. Andreas Scholl es un formidable artista que expresa cada sentimiento y cada idea con maravillosa precisión y emoción. Él no estuvo solamente imponente durante sus arias, sino en el dueto "Io t'abraccio" fue el motor que impulsó la melodía.

Grimoaldo, el bien intencionado pretendiente, fue cantado con autoridad por el tenor norteamericano Kurt Streit, quien no ha tenido en su país natal las oportunidades que se merece. El villano Garibaldo fue cantado por el bajo Humberto Chiummo quien mostró no sólo un buen dominio de la parte musical, sino también una maravillosa actuación a la manera de los villanos de la época del cine mudo. Los papeles menores, aunque importantes, de Eduige y Unulfo fueron cantados por Jean Rigby y por el contratenor polaco Artur Stefanowicz.

He dejado para el final lo más notable de la noche. La Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment tuvo una ejecución espectacular bajo la batuta de William Christie, quien no es solamente un genio musical, sino también uno de los principales defensores de las llamadas "Historic Informed Performances", HIP, en las cuales se hace un esfuerzo importante para ejecutar de la manera que se piensa es la más cercana a la original. Uno de los aspectos más relevantes de la función fue que los miembros de la orquesta, y Christie, mantuvieron una sonrisa hasta el final de las cuatro horas que duró la función. Esta no es la manera en que la mayoría de las orquestas sindicalizadas se comportan hoy en día. Recordemos que Handel fue un músico y genio dramático, quien, en palabras de Winton Dean, vivió en la ciudad equivocada y en la época equivocada. Sus óperas, que rebasan las 40, no fueron tocadas en más de 150 años. En 1920 el Festival de Handel en Halle fue inaugurado con una función de "Rodelinda", que estoy seguro fue muy diferente de la que hemos sido testigos esta noche.

Puedo decir que tuve una de mis más grandes noches de ópera, y pienso que esta experiencia fue compartida por el público que se mantuvo aplaudiendo por varios minutos, no solamente a los cantantes, los miembros de la orquesta y al director, sino también a los miembros del equipo de producción. Este es un caso en el que el director de escena fue relevante.

Review 4:
by Frank Cadenhead, Opera Japonica

Rodelinda was one of those perfect nights at the theater that only come around a few times a year. William Christie, the France-based early music specialist, was on top form conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the grace and worth of the music shown in all its glory. With an extraordinarily fine stage design and direction by his long-time associate, Jean-Marie Villégier, one wondered if this opera had ever been more perfectly staged.   Restrained but glamorous stage images and costumes, styled after the early days of black and white Hollywood films, were combined with taut and carefully controlled stage action. Under Villégier's detailed direction, the performance had a dramatic tension and viability confounding all normal expectations of Baroque opera. The singing was of exceptional quality also. As the fair Rodelinda, Anna Caterina Antonacci had the necessary fire and spirit for her imposing role. She was paired with the German counter-tenor star Andreas Scholl who dominated the stage with his lovely voice and commanding theatrical sense. American tenor Kurt Streit made a strong impression in the role of Grimoaldo, as did Jean Rigby as Eduige. The high level of singing, acting and music making made this performance one to stay long in the memory of the lucky audience.

Dove sei?

Dove sei? Amato bene?
Vieni l'alma a consolar!
Sono oppresso da' tormenti, 
ed i crudi miei lamenti
sol con te posso bear.
Where are you?  Beloved?
Come, come to comfort my soul.
I am opporessed with torment
and only with you
can I bear the pain of this sorrow.


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