Brilliant production single-handedly rehabilitating Handel
The great hit of Glyndebourne's 1996 season and surely amongst the greatest operatic productions ever mounted at the house. On paper it shouldn't have been green lit: it's actually an oratorio; director Peter Sellars is celebrated as a maverick as capable of a miss as a hit. Even in production alarm bells should have been ringing at the prospect of a pared down, surreal production design to be set in an abstracted post-imperial western country.
But Sellars goes even further. He infuses much of the action with comedy to gild the injustice and pomp of nastier characters. He uses a host of actors sometimes working almost against the grain of the music. The chorus have stylised - and indeed quite noisy, off-score instructions to carry out. What must happen during all this black magic is a concentration on the emotional content of the opera, whilst we are distracted from our cumulative assumptions about what Handel is.
The production is well caught on film with one or two moments from a separately filmed session inserted for extra involvement in the action (I've never been sure about these). But David Daniels' career was launched, Dawn Upshaw's was revived and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson could be justly knighted for her selfless pursuit of Sellars' vision. Desperately beautiful and sad. 8/10
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?