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Handel, Alcina: Soloists, Orchestra and  Chorus  of Latvian National Opera , Conductor: Andris Veismanis. Teatro Calderón de Valladolid. 14. 5.2008 (JMI)

Production: Teatro de la Ópera nacional de Letonia.

Director: Kristina Wuss
Sets: Andris Freiberg
Costumes: Kristine Pasternaka
Lighting: Janis Valle


Alcina: Asmika Grigorjana
Ruggiero: Sergejs Jêgers
Bradamante: Antra Bigaca
Morgana: Evija Martinsone
Oronte: Viesturs Jansons
Melisso: Juris Âdamsons
Oberto: Eleonora Orlova

Following the inauguration of the new Auditorium, Valladolid, has become a city of important musical activity, because in addition to the the Auditorium's attractive programme, there is also a traditional opera season at the old Teatro Calderón. This seems to enjoy the favour of the public who fill the house every time an opera is on  stage.

Closing the season,  Teatro Calderón offered three performances of Handel’s Alcina by the Latvian National Opera. The Baltic countries have a huge musical tradition and there are stable opera companies in Riga, Tallin and Vilnius,  to mention only the three capitals. This big musical tradition also provides very good singers, like Lithuaninan soprano Violeta Urmana or the Latvian mezzo Elina Garança, two of the most important singers in the world today.

Alcina is one the best Handel operas with truly exceptional music, that is very difficult to perform. The complicated story, with magic at the centre of the plot, and the vocal difficulties for the singers are problems not easily overcome in many productions. In this case though,  the performance achieved a high musical standard and a decent production. It was  let down by the cast.

The best aspect of the performance came from  Andris Veismanis, who offered a very interesting reading of the score, full of strength  and good taste. The orchestra made a fine   impression, even though it is not at quite the level of the greatest baroque orchestras. Veismanis
used a very comprehensive edition of the opera although it  was strange that he decided to change Ruggiero’s aria “Sta nell’Ircana” into a duet between Bradamante and Ruggiero, as he did with Bradamante’s aria “All’alma fedel”.

Alcina was the soprano Asmika Grigorjana, daughter of the famous tenor Gegam Grigorian, who seemed rather immature for the difficulties of the part, suffering from  pitch problems and too many shouted notes. Ruggiero was a countertenor with a particular ugly voice, Sergejs Jegers, whose best moment was in “Verdi Prati”. I have the feeling that the reason that the change  mentioned above had to do with his difficulties in coloratura. Bradamante was written for a contralto and Antra Bigaca is a mezzo soprano, very weak at the lower end of her range and not too agile either. Soprano Evija Martinsone was Morgana and  showed an attractive light soprano voice in the middle range but was rather shrill higher up. Tenor Viesturs Jansons was a poor as Oronte, taking refuge in an unpleasant falsetto, while Melisso was Juris Adamsons, singing with a voice of little interest and short on musicality.
Young Eleonora Orlova was a good Oberto.

The theater was almost full.
The audience was more courteous than enthusiastic, perhaps because of the singing and the fact that the performance finished almost at midnight. Still, we enjoyed  Handel's  music which was very well served.

José M Irurzun

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