One More Angry Soprano

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.

11 thoughts on “One More Angry Soprano

          1. I second the ‘yay!’ on that re: both Schade in Toronto and that particular Salzburg recording of Clemenza, which I love. (Toronto doesn’t do any live broadcasting of operas, does it?)


            1. Unfortunately not. Worse, the CBC is the only state financed TV company in the industrialised world that doesn’t televise opera. Mind, having seen their efforts from the early 1990s that might be a blessing.

              I was sitting in front of Schade at the COC season launch press conference. When Alexander announced Clemenza I looked over at him with an interrogative eyebrow and he gave me two thumbs up and a big grin!


  1. Wow, I finally got my hands on this Rodelinda. I would NOT want to make Dorothea Röschmann angry. EVER! She sings awesomely and convincingly, and though some consider her “too heavy” here, I think she is just right. I am also impressed with the tone and energy of Paul Nilon and Umberto Chiummo, neither of whom have I encountered before. Garribaldo may be the bad guy, but he is easy on the ears And on the eyes! (The countertenors are a bit disappointing however. Well, I find Chance disappointing; Robson is unbearable! I guess I’ll have to check out the Glyndborne version for happier versions of their arias!)

    (I hope it doesnt bug you to find new replies to old posts. And welcome back from Russia! I’ve been enjoying a vicarious vacation through your blog posts!)


    1. I remember reading a review of this that said Röschmann made “heavy weather” out of Rodelinda’s music, but — well, as far as I am concerned, bring on the heavy weather! I didn’t know much about her when I first watched this DVD, and it was one of the recordings that turned me into a fan of hers.

      I agree about the countertenors. Chance can act and he really throws himself into the part, but the sound is not ideal – and Robson is definitely the vocal weak link in this cast.

      I definitely do not mind replies to old posts! (and re: Russia: it was quite an experience. I’m still sorting it out mentally, and I’m going to have to hunt up recordings of some of the music I heard.)


  2. Most 19th century opera heroines (aka, damsels in distress) are beyond lame. Helplessly waiting for an obliging tenor (and dying anyway), going mad or dying of consumption.


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