I knew Vivaldi from his concertos, having played cello/continuo in a few, and also his Gloria, which is quite rightly a choral favourite. But I knew next to nothing of his operas, and judging from watching this production of Orlando Furioso it seems as though I'm missing out. And not just because of Vivaldi's stylishly tuneful music but also that the production was as great as it was. It is a traditional production and very easy on the eyes, looking lavish with costumes to take the breath away. The staging has some moments of humour, but often very sophisticated, but never so much to make the drama static. Vivaldi's music never loses its luster, thanks to the orchestral playing that is authentic and elegant and the conducting that doesn't fall into the trap of either rushing or dragging. You can't talk about the production, at least to me, without mentioning the performances. Every single one of them here are top-notch, with nobody coming across as weak and a superb central performance matched with equally superb supporting ones. Marilyn Horne's(of which the production is a showcase for) high notes may not be as free as before, then again she is late in her career here, but her musicality, incredible passage-work and rich voice are all here, as well as a grave, commanding dignity in her acting. Susan Patterson is a radiant Angelica, and William Matteuzzi sings sweetly. Jeffrey Gall has a nice countertenor voice, impresses in his virtuosity and has a good presence in his frequent screen-time. Kevin Langan is imposing and vocally sonorous and Sandra Walker has a wonderful deep contralto voice and strong command to her stage acting, but it is Kathleen Kuhlmann's amazing all-round Alcina who steals the show especially in her lament. In conclusion, a grand treasure of a production, and now I can't wait to hear and see more of Vivaldi's operatic works. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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