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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Metropolian Opera Preview: Rodelinda

Renée Fleming returns to the Met as Handel's sixth-century queen.
Renée Fleming in the title role of Rodelinda.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2004 The Metropolitan Opera.

The Met presents a revival of Stephen Wadsworth's production of Handel's opera seria. This is the second revival of Rodelinda, an opera which first arrived at the Met in 2004 with Ms. Fleming and countertenor David Daniels in the leading roles. Here, the star soprano is paired with mezzo Stephanie Blythe. Harry Bickett conducts.

Handel's opera retells the story of a Lombard queen whose husband Bertarido (countertenor Andreas Scholl) fakes his own death in order to achieve revenge and take back his throne. Since this isn't Verdi, everything ends on a note of forgiveness as Rodelinda and her husband are restored to the throne.

There is some reason to debate the merits of performing baroque opera in the vast spaces of the Met. But Ms. Fleming remains a magnetic stage presence, and this revival (which occasions a Met Live in HD broadcast) will preserve another of the singer's many roles for posterity.

Recording Recommendations:

Thanks to the revival of interest in baroque opera in the last two decades, Rodelinda has not been ignored on disc. There's even an older set with Joan Sutherland applying her formidable technique to the title role.

Il Complesso Barocco cond. Alan Curtis (DG Archiv, 2005)
Rodelinda: Simone Kermes
Bertarido: Marjana Mijanovic
Grimoaldo: Steve Davislim

This is a fine period performance ensemble under the experienced baton of Alan Curtis. The cast is solid and enthusiastic, with female singers taking the roles that are normally delegated to countertenors.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.