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Ariodante (1996)

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On 8th January 1735 at the Covent Garden in London, Georg Friederich Handel presented his new opera Ariodante on a libretto by Antonio Salvi adapted by Paolo Rolli and inspired by Ariosto. ... See full summary »



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Credited cast:
Gwynne Howell ...
Joan Rodgers ...
Ann Murray ...
Paul Nilon ...
Lesley Garrett ...
Mark Le Brocq ...
Carol Grant ...
Kyrie Hardiman ...
Irene Hardy ...
Rachel Lopez de la Niéta ...
Leesa Phillips ...
Sirena Tocco ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ivor Bolton ...
Himself - Conductor
English National Opera Chorus ...


On 8th January 1735 at the Covent Garden in London, Georg Friederich Handel presented his new opera Ariodante on a libretto by Antonio Salvi adapted by Paolo Rolli and inspired by Ariosto. The opera did not immediately win public favour and thus failed to furnish a definitive solution for the fate of Handel's company, but with time it was to be understood and appreciated and has remained on playbills among the more successful and interesting titles. Handel's particular attention to the expressive aspect was most probably the reason for the opera's limited commercial success: the characters fit only partially into the customary types of opera of the day. The tendency to formulate autonomous patterns in the expressive genre is also underlined by an illustrious contemporary, John Mainwaring, in his Memoirs of the life of George Frederick Handel. Extraordinary is also the strength of the instrumental composition, which again in Ariodante is intended now as support to the voices now as ...

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Wonderful singing, incongruous production values and staging
29 May 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

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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