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Ariodante review at Coliseum London

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David Alden himself returns to direct his 1993 production jointly with Ian Rutherford. Much of the show works well. Ian MacNeil’s designs, lit on this occasion by Paul Taylor, provide a vision of a stressed rococo palace where the rejected Polinesso plots his revenge on Ginevra, destroying her reputation and sundering her relationships with her father, the King of Scotland and her betrothed Ariodante. Matters are set to rights by the end, but the pain she suffers lingers on and adds to the disturbing feel of the whole. One or two points in the narrative – notably Polinesso’s crucial charade exposing Ginevra’s supposed infidelity – need to be clarified. Much else is thoughtful and visually apt.

The singing too is mixed. A number of performances – notably the two leads, Alice Coote’s Ariodante and Rebecca Evans’s Ginevra – have enormous flair and imagination, though neither quite consistently hits the spot. Similarly, Patricia Bardon’s villain – complete with an unconvincing beard – does not quite deliver on its promise.

More sure-footed are Peter Rose’s solid King and Sarah Tynan’s charming but vulnerable Dalinda, chief agent of Polinesso’s manipulative scheme. Paul Nilon is adequate as Ariodante’s brother Lurcanio, though his voice registers as monochrome.

Matters would be helped were Christopher Mould’s conducting stronger, but it remains merely correct, lacks impetus both during individual numbers and in each of the acts as a whole.

Production Information

Coliseum, London, June 1-24

Composer
Handel
Director
David Alden and Ian Rutherford
Producer
English National Opera
Cast includes
Alice Coote, Rebecca Evans, Patricia Bardon, Paul Nilon, Peter Rose, Sarah Tynan
Running time
3hrs 45mins

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