Rodelinda ranks high among Handel’s operas, strong in the theatrical sense, inventive and emotive in the musical sense.
Scottish Opera: Rodelinda - The Beacon, Greenock
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What’s more, the nuclear group of characters – six in all who punctuate the intense backstabbing action with a steady stream of da capo arias and minimal ensemble singing – make it an ideal medium for small scale touring.
King Bertarido is missing presumed dead, leaving the ground open for a power struggle and the prize that comes with gaining the hand of the supposedly widowed Rodelinda. Chris Rolls’ production for Scottish Opera plays to the human drama, the toy town miniaturism of designer Oliver Townsend’s palace a perfect capsule for the stifling intrigue, lightened by moments of farce.
It sat well last night in Greenock’s impressive new Beacon Arts Centre, a crystal clear sound box for vocal performances generally tuned to the characters they portrayed. None was so outstanding, perhaps, as countertenor Reno Troilus’s sharp-scented Unulfo, though Sarah Power’s Rodelinda was lit by a gentle radiance, and Sioned Gwen Davies’s Eduige loaded with attitude. Richard Rowe’s sharp-suited Grimoaldo was overwrought at times, and Andrew McTaggart’s bully boy Garibaldo occasionally rough at the edges, with Andrew Radley’s Bertarido not always sharply in focus.
It was a brave trio – violin, harpsichord and cello – that weathered the challenge of this drastically pared-down scoring, which they did with unflinching skill. Inevitably the result was monochromatic, leaving heavyweight numbers undernourished. There was room, and requirement, for a more complete ensemble.