This is probably the obvious corollary to the previous post. Here is Rodelinda’s Act I aria in which she tells Garibaldo that she will have his “impious head.”
I have no trouble remembering how much I love Röschmann’s performance of this role, but whenever I see or hear part of it again I am struck anew by how absolutely terrific this is, in both musical and dramatic terms. Rodelinda is not a person to be messed with. This is focused, controlled and dangerous anger – not a curse, but a threat.
I have always found it interesting how you see more of this type of anger in baroque opera than in say, Romantic-era material. Nineteenth-century opera heroines, when wronged, tend to go mad rather than get mad. Elvira in Bellini’s I Puritani comes to mind. Or, they suck it up and behave themselves, as Elisabeth in Don Carlos and Aida both do. Or, as with Tosca, they do some stabbing but they don’t get away with it. Then again, Tosca is a little bit iffy as a heroine. If we are talking Puccini, Mimi, for example, is never going to slip anyone the shiv. Musetta might, but then again, she’s not really a ‘heroine’ in the way Mimi is. For anything after about 1800, ladies who get angry or threatening are usually ladies who are having a little too much sex or who end up crazy, dead or locked away. Luckily for Rodelinda, she’s a baroque heroine, so she gets away with the death threats.