Handel, Rodelinda. Theater an der Wien, 3/22/2011. New production by Philipp Harnoncourt, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt with the Concentus Musicus Wien and Danielle De Niese (Rodelinda), Bejun Mehta (Bertarido), Kurt Streit (Grimoaldo), Konstantin Wolff (Garibaldo), Malena Ernman (Eduige), Matthias Rexroth (Unulfo).This post marks a new way of writing for me, which I hope y'all will like. For this performance I've gone official! If you go here, you can read my more-concise-than-usual review on the excellent classical music website Bachtrack. It says this, among other things:
Philipp Harnoncourt eschews the jokey post-modern antics of many Handel productions in favor of a realistic, deadly serious approach. The entire production takes place around a grim cement apartment block whose exact geographic location is never clear. The multi-level set revolves to reveal different locations and personalities, from the thugs’ hangout to teenagers and children, showing more than one group at once... But Harnoncourt’s creativity can get the best of him, and sometimes the multiple mini-dramas unfolding at once obscure the narrative thrust and emotional arc of the plot...Yet in a broad sense the production is successful, and the drama gripping.Go read the rest! (And look around this interesting website!) But here I shall elaborate on a few points. I think this format may free me from my unfortunate compulsion to be comprehensive.
This was maybe the inverse of the Staatsoper’s Alcina from last November. There, I thought the big picture was severely lacking but the aria-level Personenregie was pretty good. Here, the big picture was right, but on the detailed level things were amiss. Some arias were good: I particularly liked the staging of Rodelinda’s “Se’l mio duol non è si forte,” in which she torturously walks up and down a staircase. The last act was definitely the strongest. This is the point when many productions go downhill, so that suggests that the basic concept is good. Both productions were, on the whole, more or less successful, but neither quite ideal.
But the orchestra is really great and you should go see it for them. And Bejun Mehta, who is spectacular (as I say in the full review above).
I'll still be blogging here in the regular manner as well, but am going to be working with this two-part format more as well, we'll see how it all works out.
Photos copyright Werner Kmetitisch