Tag: Rodelinda

Handel – Rodelinda / Metropolitan Opera 2011 (1)

Rodelinda battles it out in my head with Giulio Cesare and Alcina as my favorite Handel opera. I’ve seen two other versions of it on DVD, and heard two more on CD, and watching this performance from the Met made me realize that one of the other versions I’ve seen is actually even more interesting, in retrospect, than I thought it was at the time. But that’s not important right now.

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Another Rodelinda on DVD

Just found out that the Met’s production of Handel’s Rodelinda is available on DVD! I saw this live years and years ago – it was my first time hearing Andreas Scholl. And of course Renée Fleming as Rodelinda is no slouch either.

This is the upside to browsing Amazon when I should be writing a talk about Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. I guess I still have to write the talk, though. (Our theater department is performing the play, and so there’s a little university symposium where they bring in people from various fields to talk about it, and since I’m the resident pre-1700 American historian, I got recruited to talk about Puritanism and witchcraft.)

Two Rodelindas

I had to sweat blood not to, but in talking about the Glyndebourne version of Rodelinda I avoided comparisons to the Bayerische Staatsoper one because I wanted to talk about what I was seeing/hearing rather than what I wasn’t. However, so as not to let all that blood go to waste, I figured I’d get this out of my system. Besides, these are the only two DVD versions of this opera that are easily available (they’re the only two I know of, at least) so why not?

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Handel – Rodelinda / Glyndebourne 1998 (2)

(Previous section here.)

The silent film conceit does more than just allow for a certain amount of hand-waving. It’s sort of interesting, isn’t it, to stage an opera – an art form where the performers are right there with the audience – with reference to film, where there isn’t any contact between the two? Especially given that here the performers are often addressing the audience directly. Unulfo’s “sono i colpi della sorte” in Act I is sung more about than to Bertarido. And during Act II, Eduige’s “de’ miei scherni per far le vendette” is done almost as an aside. Rodelinda is in the room, but she’s not paying much attention, except when Eduige gets a little too caught up in it, receives a sort of “what?” look from Rodelinda, and looks embarrassed for a moment. There is an extraverted quality to all this – lots of asides, little glances or facial expressions aimed at the audience, this type of thing. You can’t get deeply drawn into what is going on because your presence is so frequently acknowledged – you’re reminded that this is being performed for you. My point isn’t that this is a bad way to stage a Handel opera, just that it’s not necessarily one calculated to hit you where it hurts.

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Handel – Rodelinda / Glyndebourne 1998 (1)

This production of Handel’s Rodelinda remains in Italy – we see Garibaldo reading Corriere della sera in Act II – but the story has been moved to the 1920s. Rodelinda is not the queen of the Lombards here in any obvious sense. I’m not actually sure what she’s queen of. Maybe it doesn’t matter.

But there are definitely people in positions of authority here. Except for Grimoaldo, who wears some very snazzy suits, the men wear military uniforms. But lest you think hm, Italy in the 1920s and military uniforms – I wonder where they’re going with that? rest assured that this opera is not about fascism. Or, at least it wasn’t about fascism in any way that I was able to determine. If fascism is commented upon in the woods and no one is there to hear it, etc. etc.

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Weekend 7-15-12

I spent four hours yesterday afternoon reading works of seventeenth-century controversial divinity. When John Cotton publishes something called Sixteen Questions of Serious and Necessary Consequence you know 1. you’re in for a treat! and 2. it’s probably going to take a while.

I was doing this not because I had to, but because — well, actually I sort of had to, but it’s part of a larger research plan that does not actually turn on the finer points of 1640s theological disputation. (Also, for anyone who does not know this, I am not a lunatic; I am a historian. These two things only look similar.)

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Rodelinda / Röschmann, Chance, Palmer et al. / Bayerische Staatsoper 2004 (3)

(Previous section here.)

Eduige is an unusual opera character – a woman who is motivated not by the power of love, but by love of power. She actually says this at one point, that she is motivated by a desire for power, which I didn’t notice until I watched the opera again this time, and I was so surprised that I went back to look at the Italian to make sure there wasn’t a mistake in the English. There wasn’t. Of course, this is still an eighteenth-century opera, so she has to get power via seduction and manipulation.

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Rodelinda / Röschmann, Chance, Palmer et al. / Bayerische Staatsoper 2004 (2)

(Previous section here.)

You could reasonably make the argument that Dorothea Röschmann’s voice is on the heavy side for this role. I have heard it performed by lighter-sounding sopranos, and there is a difference. That said: screw the difference, because this is a wonderful performance. Here is “ritorna, o caro” from Act II. You can hear her breathing, yes, but those highest notes just . . . gleam.

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Rodelinda / Röschmann, Chance, Palmer et al. / Bayerische Staatsoper 2004 (1)

Roeschmann - RodelindaThis was the DVD that turned me into a Röschmann fan. For most people, it’s one of the Mozart ones, isn’t it? Usually either La Clemenza di Tito or the Guth Nozze di Figaro or sometimes that beautiful Zauberflöte from 2003. I saw this before I saw any of those. I had heard her voice before, on that CD of Handel’s German Arias, but for whatever reason it was when I was watching this — somewhere around ‘morrai si’ that I found myself thinking whoa, who IS that soprano?

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Io t’abbraccio / DiDonato, Ciofi, Il Complesso Barocco

I was listening to this CD the other day while packing up my office. (We are having one of those weeks at work: there is a sort of looming packing tape crisis, because Nancy who has to clear all office supply orders is out on holiday so no more tape can be purchased, but for whatever reason everyone has really, really needed to tape things this week, so there is 1 (one) role of clear packing tape and 1 (maybe) tape dispenser. I am in possession of the tape.)

But as I was saying, I was listening to this CD of duets from Handel operas. This has precisely nothing to do with packing tape – anyone who successfully links the two gets a prize, TBD – but I have come to the conclusion that Alan Curtis’s take on Rodelinda is . . . weird.

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Handel’s Rodelinda is one of my favorite operas. For me, it began with this DVD about which I should write some day, because I have basically memorized the thing, and I’d hate for all that obsessive listening to go to waste (It’s Roeschmann, Palmer, Chance et al. at the Munich opera in 2004).

Anyway. I went looking this past summer for additional recordings of Rodelinda. There is this one conducted by Alan Curtis with Il Complesso Barocco with Simone Kermes as Rodelinda, which is nice although sort of chilly (but I like Marie-Nicole Lemieux’s Unulfo). I like live recordings, though, and other than the Munich DVD referenced above there aren’t many really good ones.

Except the one I got from these nice people at the Goettingen International Handel Festival. It’s of a performance from 2000, conducted by Nicholas McGegan with Robin Blaze as Bertarido and Dominique Labelle as Rodelinda. It took about two months for them to send it because the person who ran their shop was on holiday when I submitted the order and by the time she got back my one Europe-friendly credit card had expired so it didn’t work, and we had several very polite emails about that, and then I gave her the new expiration date and paid for the thing and she sent it to me. Anyway. I liked it.

For those whose boats are floated by this type of thing, here are the points about it that stood out to me: