For those unfamiliar with the story, this opera tells the tale of power and the means to attain it - no matter what. Spread over three acts, the viewer is taken on a journey of (unrequited) love, intrigue and trickery to attain power. Yet, even through suicidal tendencies and excommunication, the opera ends with a "happily ever after", leaving the audience with an exhilarated yet rested heart.
Originally played by a castrato, this Ariodante was played by no other than internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli. And she certainly mastered the stage. Though it is not her first transvestite role, Bartoli recognizes the
The incarnation of Polinesso by Christophe Dumaux was not to be underestimated. With a great stage presence, this countertenor took control over his scenes, in a beautifully devious style that personified the villain of the plot. Deceiving Dalinda, played by his fellow countrywoman Sandrine Piau, he shares his delightful mastery over his voice, from menacing to delicately sweet.
Sharing the musical beauty of this production were the Musiciens du Prince, the Baroque orchestra Bartoli created with the financial support of the Principality of Monaco. Playing on period instruments and under the direction of Gianluca Capuano, the orchestra elegantly articulated the artistic mastery of H?ndel.
It was as if the opera was staged like H?ndel imagined, yet through a postmodern lens. Witty and humorous, it all fell into place: the modern-baroque costume design by Ursula Renzenbring, set design by Johannes Leiacker, and lighting by Roland Edrich. The Norwegian National Ballet choreographer Andreas Heise added excellently to this brilliant production by assimilating whimsical twenty-first-century steps and poses with French Baroque dance. All in all, an engaging theatrical evening and magnificent production of Ariodante.
For more information on the Monte-Carlo Opera and their next productions: www.opera.mc
Photo credits: Alain Hanel, courtesy of the Monte-Carlo Opera