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Handel, Ariodante: Soloists, Orquesta Sinfónica del Principado de Asturias. Coro de la Ópera de Oviedo.Conductor: Andrea Marcon.Teatro Campoamor de Oviedo. 20.12.2009 (JMI)


Production from English National Opera.
Direction: David Alden (original).

Ian Rutherford (revival).

Sets and Costumes: Ian Mac Neil.

Lighting: Wolfgang Goebbel.

Choreography: Michael Keegan-Dolan (original).

Rachel López de la Nieta (revival).


Ariodante: Alice Coote.

Ginevra: Verónica Cangemi.

Polinesso: Marina Rodríguez-Cusí.

Dalinda: Sarah Tynan.

Lurcanio: Paul Nilon.

Scotland King: Joan Martín-Royo.

Odoardo: Javier Galán.

These performances of Ariodante in Oviedo have been the biggest successes of the season so far. The success has been due to presenting the opera in all the right and due conditions, i.e. with a brilliant production, great musical direction and a well balanced vocal cast.

The first right decision by the Oviedo management was to offer David Alden's production, originally from English National Opera where it was premiered some 16 years ago. I had the opportunity to see this  more than three years ago at the Munich Opera Festival, the last under Peter Jonas's artistic direction, and I was truly impressed by the quality and imagination of David Alden’s work. A few years earlier the production had been reviewed in Seen and Heard by Melanie Eskenazy and there is really not much that needs to be  added to her comments : it is simply an example of what happens when a stage director's imagination is put wholly at the service of the music.

The second right decision in Oviedo was to invite the Italian Andrea Marcon to be musical director: his  work was also magnificent. These days we are used to great conductors of Baroque music leading their own orchestras but what is much rarer is a conductor who can get a great performance from a less than top flight orchestral group in this repertoire. This is certainly what Maestro Marcon achieved here. I don't know of course, what  this artist could get from a top Baroque Orchestra, but I can assure you that no conductor will be able to draw anything better from the Oviedo players:  what he achieved made him  the evening's  biggest star as far as I was concerned.

The opera's protagonist, the knight Ariodante, was  the English mezzo soprano Alice Coote, who  had already sung the character at the London Coliseum in the production's last revival there. She was the star of the vocal cast and proved that true success as a singer does not always need a huge voice:  pure musicality, expressiveness and good taste such as Ms Coote showed here are often more than enough and  her interpretation of "Scherza Infida" was nigh to perfection. Along  with David Alden and Andrea Marcon, Ms Coote was the third exceptional artist  supporting this magnificent Ariodante.

Ginevra  was supposed to be the Welsh soprano Rebecca Evans, who was also Ariodante’s lover in London but she cancelled and her cover was the  Argentinian soprano Veronica Cangemi, who was also  an exciting singer. Her voice is actually rather small, but she showed enormous sensitivity and  was very well suited to this repertoire. After a somewhat disappointing first Act, in which the top of her voice did not seem immensely promising, she turned out to excellent in the following acts.

Marina Rodríguez-Cusí made an acceptable Polinesso, whose vocal skills did not quite match the level of her  colleagues already mentioned because evil Polinesso requires a wider voice. She was always perfectly correct, but her voice does not allow her to be exciting in this character.

The English soprano Sarah Tynan was also present in London’s Ariodante. She is a light soprano with a not a particularly special  voice, but she certainly coped with the demands of her character very well.

The three male cast members have lesser relevance than their female colleagues and  among them, the best was British tenor Paul Nilon, who has made something of a speciality of singing Lurcanio.  Here, he was a convincing singer and a compelling performer while Joan Martín-Royo  made a decent enough King of Scotland.

There was a full house and there were no defections at the intermissions, even though the performance lasted for four hours. There were cheers for Ariodante and Ginevra after their arias and at the final bows,  all the artists were very much warmly applauded.  The popular triumphs went to Alice Coote, followed by Veronica Cangemi while Andrea Marcon received only a fraction of the recognition he deserved.

José M. Irurzun

Picture © Fundación Opéra de Oviedo

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