Impressions of Rodelinda at ENO
I was new to Handel opera and I must admit that I found it quite a steep learning curve. The extended arias and frequent repetition of the same material make it a dense piece and a challenge for any director. I have to say that although I did not quite get on with the piece itself but it was nonetheless an interesting and rewarding evening.
Did the director shed new light on the piece? I cannot be certain as this was my first live Handel opera. One thing I found very confusing was the portrayal of Flavio as a mute young adult, I felt this would have been better portrayed by a child. However, the return of Bertarido was a dramatic highpoint and was a most effective piece of staging. As were the audio-visual effect, an interesting dramatic device.
So, what were the highlights? Really distinguished singing from all the principles and alert and stylish playing from the orchestra. Rebecca Evans was a standout in the title role with singing which was a model of Handelian style from recording and videos I have heard. Counter-tenor Tim Mead as Bertarido was equally outstanding.
Overall, it was a powerful and enjoyable introduction to Handel.
Ailsa Maxwell is a New Voices reviewer supported by the Wales Critics Fund