Fun, Drama and Poignant Yearning; REVIEW: Handel's Rodelinda, English National Opera

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 10, 2014 | Go to article overview

Fun, Drama and Poignant Yearning; REVIEW: Handel's Rodelinda, English National Opera


Wales' operatic leading lady Rebecca Evans has always had drama in her blood and in this towering production she gives a performance of consummate singing and acting. The feistiness of her Rodelinda is matched by the pathos and beauty of her singing as she delivers aria after demanding aria that run the gamut of emotions.

Believing her husband, the rightful king Bertarido, to be dead, our noble queen outmanoeuvres the usurper Grimoaldo to save herself and son Flavio. But Bertarido is not dead and has returned in disguise and, after all manner of blood-curdling twists and turns, her fidelity is rewarded.

The opera with its acres of arias could be a challenge for contemporary audiences but in the bold hands of director Richard Jones it is a riot of theatrical ingenuity, always fun and inventive, yet never at odds with Handel.

Updated from the medieval to some post-war fascistic Milan, the cast weaves a complicated and rather ridiculous plot through designer Jeremy Herbert's dank, threatening mobster lair.

Evans' powerhouse lyrical soprano performance is matched by the singing of counter tenor Iestyn Davies as Bertarido who watches the manoeuvrings between Rodelinda and Grimoaldo, sung by John Mark Ainsley, who wants his wife as well as his throne, until revealing the king is back. …

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