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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Triumphant Handel at Glyndebourne, 11 Mar 2004
This review is from: Handel - Rodelinda [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Rodelinda, one of the triumvirate of classic Handelian operas of the mid-1720s, is a classic of psychological action and shows Handel at his best as an interpreter of human drama and emotion. In the hands of William Christie and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Rodelinda comes alive in a timeless production from Jean-Marie Villégier. A sort of cross between the Prisoner of Zenda and movies of the silent period, this production was atmospheric and moving, though some will rankle at the 'needless' condescensions to humour (Garibaldo's cigarette aria for example, or his leaping up after being shot to take part on stage in the final chorus dispensing champagne to all).
What sets this performance apart from others of the past. at both Glyndebourne and Covent Garden, is the singing. Anna Caterina Antonacci was utterly at ease in the anguished part of the distraught queen Rodelinda, mourning the loss of her husband Bertarido (Andreas Scholl, making his stage debut) and fighting off the attentions of the victorious dictator Grimoaldo (Kurt Streit). Te supporting characters are more than simply adjuncts - Louise Winter as Eduige, Artur Stefanowicz (Unulfo) and Umberto Chiummo (Garibaldo) play their parts too in making this an outstanding production. Streit plays the part of Grimoaldo as a noble conqueror, guilty over his victory but unable to contain his passion for Rodelinda, though capable of nobility at the end when his life is saved by Bertarido. Chiummo as the treacherous henchman Garibaldo displayed admirable coloratura and an almost feline edge to his actions that effectively got across the double-dealing nature of his character.
Andreas Scholl made his stage debut in this performance at Glyndebourne. Initially edgy and uncertain, his character grows in stature, and by the end his characterisation is utterly convincing. His entrance in Act one with its famous aria 'Dove sei?' was almost as if time stopped and we were transported back to Handel's time - his voice grave, pure and heartfelt. He coped well with some very difficult passage work in Act 2, but brought the house down in his duet with Antonacci at the end of Act 2 (Io t'abbraccio) and his 'Vivi Tyranno' at the end of act 3.
In all this was a very sucessful production that, by and large, achieved the praise it deserved in the press. Anyone interested in baroque opera will not wish to be without this video, nor will anyone who is a fan of good opera, well sung and well acted. Highly recommended, and worth probably 6 *
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