Wonderful singing, incongruous production values and staging
I had very mixed feelings on this production of Handel's Ariodante(possibly the most romantic of his operas). Of course the music is beautiful, as is always the case with Handel, and it is stylishly and sensitively performed by the orchestra and the conducting is well-judged in terms of tempos. There is some terrific singing as well, Ann Murray's Scherza Infida is just outstanding, beautifully and musically sung and deeply-felt. Christopher Robson is a scheming Polinesso, while Lesley Garett sings wonderfully and manages to out-act the rest of the cast, including the always solid and vocally sonorous Gwynne Howell and the pleasing Lynne Dawson as Ginevra. However, I disliked the staging, coming across as dull and camp, with the characters reduced to caricatures(is it me or does Polinesso remind one of Professor Snape from Harry Potter?) and the singers sometimes made to act the opposite of what they're singing. Aside from the good picture and sound quality, this Ariodante is a visually unappealing production with ugly darkly-lit sets(especially the bog when a Renaissance Garden would have been much more welcome), and equally vulgar costumes. My final problem is more a nitpick, but while the English translation is reasonably good Ariodante sounds so much poetic and magical in Italian, having it sung in English did in a way take away from those qualities. Overall, loved the singing and music, hated the production values and staging. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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