Handel – Orlando / Zurich Opera 2007 (3)

(Previous section here.)

Orlando here is Marijana Mijanovic, who takes a little while to warm up, but once she’s on, she is on. Orlando’s long tormented recitatives/ariosos at the end of Act II and towards the end of Act III are wonderful – and those low notes sound fantastic! This performance in general seems to hit its stride toward the end of Act II.

It was toward the end of Act II, in fact, that I went from impressed with Martina Janková (Angelica) to slightly more impressed with Martina Janková. The last time I saw/heard her was as Despina on a DVD of Così fan tutte, also from Zurich, and she was wonderful in that role – but here she gets a chance to go for a little more depth. And it works. My favorite sopranos tend to be ones with a little more weight and color to their voices, and Janková’s quick vibrato can occasionally verge into fluttery, but this is certainly some enjoyable Handel singing.

(And if Orlando’s entrance with an axe and the word “perfida” on his lips has left you in suspense, here is the rest of the scene.)

Janková’s voice sounds more hefty when heard alongside that of Christina Clark as Dorinda. Clark’s got one of those lightish “younger sister of the queen” type voices, and in and of itself I wasn’t gripped by the sound, but the trio (Dorina, Medoro and Angelica) that ends Act I is one of the best parts of this whole thing. Dorinda, a bit of a shrinking ingenue in Act I, also musters some significant force of personality by Act III, where she’s figured out to her own satisfaction the meaning of love, and at one point gives Angelica a bloody nose for claiming that Orlando will eventually just get over it.

There are sections of this opera that reminded me of parts of Alcina and Ariodante – Medoro’s “verdi allori” in Act II bears a certain resemblance to “verdi prati” and the music near the end of Act III where Orlando is asleep and being operated on reminded me of some of the instrumental parts of Ariodante. But given that it’s Handel, and that all three operas are derived from roughly the same source material, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. (I also had this weird deja vu feeling at Orlando and Angelica’s “finche prendi” duet in Act III – that repeated “cor”/”giusto rigor” rhyme was eating away at my brain – and it took me a while realize that this was because I’d heard DiDonato and Ciofi sing it on their Handel duets CD.)

Other highlights. Another baroque nightingale aria to add to the long list of those (Dorinda’s first aria of Act II), some nice solo violin playing in the two sections of Act I where Angelica is wooing Medoro (“ritornava al suo bel viso”) and Medoro is wooing Dorinda (“Se’l cor mai ti dirà”), and an interesting English subtitle moment: in Act III we learn that “love is like a wind in the head.”

Maybe so.