Cher Public

Thrace off

Nearly 30 years after a Handel opera last played there, Carnegie Hall presented The English Concert opening a three-year opera-oratorio project on Sunday afternoon with Radamisto. The event just missed honoring the composer’s 328th birthday on Saturday; unfortunately, the performance also just missed.

Written in 1720 as his contribution to the opening of the Royal Academy of Music, Radamisto differed markedly from the operas Handel had written since he burst onto the English scene in 1711 with Rinaldo. Like that opera, Teseo and Amadigi also featured glittering, ultimately defeated sorceresses and lots of opportunities for spectacle. However, with a libretto based on historical figures drawn from Tacitus, Radamisto became the paradigm for many operas that followed featuring noble royal characters confronting violent, life-threatening situations.

The villainous king of Armenia Tiridate has become obsessed with Zenobia, wife of Radamisto, son of Farasmane, king of the neighboring state of Thrace. Despite his being married to Radamisto’s sister Polissena, Tiridate has invaded Thrace in hopes of abducting Zenobia. The opera deals with the besieged couple’s efforts to evade capture by Tiridate, most memorably Zenobia’s dramatic plunge into a river after Radamisto fails to act on his wife’s plea to kill her so that she will not fall into the enemy’s hands—an event that actually occurred. Through the machinations of Tigrane–whose love for Polissena encourages him to betray Tiridate, Radamisto and Zenobia are reunited, and, moved by Polissena’s steadfastness, Tiridate undergoes a somewhat implausible reversal apologizing for his gross transgressions and reconciling with his wife.

Like many Handel works, Radamisto was revised extensively and exists in several versions. However, it’s atypically held that the second edition surpasses the first. Attended by King George I (German-born like the composer) to whom the opera was dedicated, its April 1720 premiere was highly successful despite the absence of several important Italian singers hired by Handel for the Academy but who had not yet arrived in England.

By the end of the year, they had, so the composer made extensive alterations to the score. Radamisto, sung by a female soprano at its premiere, was adjusted down for the alto castrato Senesino. Soprano Margherita Durastanti who had originally sung Radamisto became Zenobia for the revival. The villain Tiridate was transformed from tenor to bass for the formidable Carlo Boschi. Beyond some simple transpositions of existing arias, Handel supplied a forward-looking quartet, as well as an additional duet for Radamisto and Zenobia and ten new arias. Unfortunately he dropped the extensive dance music he had included in April, which included the seraphic Passacaille, one of Handel’s most ravishing orchestral pieces.

This December 1720 revision was—more or less—what we heard at Carnegie.

Although the opera is probably best known for “Ombra cara,” Radamisto’s moving lament over his (supposedly) dead wife,

it is the striking arioso “Sommi dei” sung by Polissena that begins the opera that seems to have caught the imagination of singers, particularly those rarely otherwise associated with Handel, like Kirsten Flagstad, who recorded it. Eileen Farrell

and Leontyne Price programmed it often in recitals.

Surprisingly of the three recordings of Radamisto (I have successfully avoided an older German recording on Berlin Classics that transposes down the high male roles for basses), the less revered first version appears in two fine versions, including a fine BBC studio performance under Roger Norrington and featuring the splendid Zenobia of Della Jones and Janet Baker as Radamisto, her final Handel role.

One of Alan Curtis’s best Handel recordings features Joyce DiDonato as Radamisto heading a sterling female cast of Maite Beaumont, Patrizia Ciofi, Dominique Labelle and Laura Cherici. However, American tenor Zachary Stains, best known for his naked Ercole in Vivaldi’s opera Ercole sul Termodonte, strains at Tiridate where only his voice is offered up.

Nicholas McGegan’s series on Harmonia Mundi based on performances at the Göttingen Handel Festival provides the sole recording of the second version.

Remarkably consistent in his taste for mediocre countertenors, McGegan casts an aggressively hooty Ralf Popken in the title role. However, soprano Juliana Gondek is a moving Zenobia while Dana Hanchard’s distinctively dusky Tigrane makes up for Monika Frimmer’s annoyingly boyish Fraarte. Michael Dean provides an aggressive if lightweight Tiridate. McGegan does at least make available the sole recording of the famed quartet (surely one of the principal reasons for the preference for the Senesino version).

Carnegie’s announcement of a three-year Handel series by the English Concert was particularly gratifying as its programming at the Stern Auditorium has been remarkably unimpressive regarding period performance unlike its usually sold-out series in Zankel Hall. It was also a happy thing to see Handel opera to return to Carnegie after an embarrassingly long absence particularly after the incomparable series mounted there for the 1985 tricentenary which included such gems as Marilyn Horne’s first-ever Orlando, Tatiana Troyanos and June Anderson in Ariodante and what may be the greatest Handel performance ever in America, Semele with John Nelson conducting Kathleen Battle, Horne, Sylvia McNair, Jeffrey Gall, Rockwell Blake, and Samuel Ramey. It was hard not to recall that starry evening (by all means search out a copy of its NPR broadcast) during Sunday’s Radamisto which occurred 28 years (and one day) after that indelible Semele.

As a nearly lifelong devotee, I continue to be irked by the need in the US to treat Handel’s operas as a rare hothouse flower. However, a sizable, audibly enthusiastic audience filling Carnegie Hall for Radamisto might suggest that this special pleading has become unnecessary.

I had naively assumed that a Handel series by one of the world’s major period orchestras would guarantee an uncut performance of a great work performed only twice previously in New York City: the 1980 premiere (also at Carnegie Hall) by Stephen Simon of the first version with veteran Handelian Beverly Wolff in the title role and the underrated Hilda Harris as Zenobia (I have a recording), followed by a 1992 installment in Will Crutchfield’s ambitious but sadly truncated Handel series at Mannes College (I attended the latter but don’t recall which version was performed).

Since the Chysander Radamisto is a bit of a mess, I assume The English Concert employed the new Bärenreiter in preparing a performing score possibly also used for the David Alden production in Santa Fe (which also traveled to the English National Opera) conducted by Harry Bicket and starring David Daniels and Luca Pisaroni. Unfortunately, the character of Fraarte is entirely omitted and Farasmane loses his only aria (a mere four minutes). Sunday also featured other baffling, pesky cuts, particularly the short duet for Radamisto and Zenobia (two minutes) just before the final coro which was sliced by a third since there was no Fraarte to sing his verse with Tigrane.

More troubling was assigning the role of Zenobia to a contralto, since Handel wanted a contrast between Radamisto and his wife. In the first version, Radamisto is a soprano, Zenobia an alto; in the Senesino revision, they are reversed. While there was a 1721 revival with Senesino and Anastasia Robinson, the original contralto Zenobia, no score has survived, so producing a Radamisto with two altos would appear to contradict Handel’s intentions, since Floridante appears to be the only Handel opera in which both hero and heroine are altos. The lack of contrast between the voices was particularly damaging to the great duet that ends act 2.

Beginning with her Orlando with Les Arts Florissants at BAM, Zenobia is the fifth Handel role I’ve heard Patricia Bardon sing over the past seventeen years. I must confess that it’s a voice I’ve never warmed to. After that Orlando I had hoped the Irish singer’s plummy contralto might be better suited to oratorio, but I didn’t care for her Storgé in a 2002 Jephtha under René Jacobs at Alice Tully Hall either. Although I’ve appreciated her dramatic commitment in subsequent Handel performances, I continue to find that her rich middle voice can’t distract from the hollow bottom and uncontrolled top.

Unfortunately her lugubrious Zenobia on Sunday failed to stir this listener’s heart, and she was particularly disappointing in “Quando mai, spietata sorte,” the sublime cavatina which opened act 2 where Hannah McLaughlin’s piercingly beautiful obbligato outshone Bardon.

Since first hearing Daniels’s astonishing breakout Nerone in Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea at Glimmerglass in 1994, my thoughts about his upcoming appearances has evolved from eager anticipation to mild dread. His early performances and recordings have assured that Daniels deserves much of the credit for transforming the public’s perception of what a countertenor can be. However, as his voice has grown increasingly unreliable, he seems more and more detached, going through the motions with a only surface connection to the music. A singer friend of mine has said that much of Daniels’s recent singing sounds like that of an old woman, and indeed there were moments on Sunday where I was reminded of the elderly rasp of the latter-day Deborah Voigt.

After his most recent MET Orfeo and Prospero in The Enchanted Island, I feared the worst for his Radamisto. Happily it proved to be his most satisfying recent appearance. After a weak “Cara sposa” (shorn of its da capo?) and a particularly effortful “Perfido, di a quell’empio tiranno,” his moving, hushed “Ombra cara” showed a welcome return to form. However, the subsequent “Vanne, sorella ingrata” laid in the weakest part of his voice, its quick coloratura becoming a nearly inaudible smear. His best singing arrived in the final act, particularly a touching “Qual nave smarrita.”

It’s too bad that Bicket rushed Daniels through my favorite aria “Dolce bene di quest’alma” preventing him from making it the mesmerizing moment it can be.

Predictably, Pisaroni was vigorously commanding in the wide-ranging part of Tiridate, even if he occasionally overdid the evil “moustache-twirling.” However, the two sopranos, less known to New York audiences than the others, provided the most pleasing singing of the afternoon. As Tigrane, Joélle Harvey revealed an agile, intriguingly complex soprano. Having been unimpressed with her Galatea from a telecast from the 2011 Aix-en-Provence Festival, I was pleasantly surprised by the infectious excitement Harvey injected into the proceedings, particularly with her third act showpiece “S’adopri il braccio armato” swiped from the omitted character of Fraarte.

Making a notable return to New York where she studied at The Juilliard School where I saw her in 2007 as a fiery if uneven Arminda in Mozart’s La Finta Gardiniera, the strikingly tall and glamorous Brenda Rae dominated the first act as Polissena, the beleaguered wife of Tiridate. Having triumphed as Cleopatra in Frankfurt’s Giulio Cesare late last year, Rae had no trouble with the extravagant coloratura of “Barbaro! partirò” despite a richer, plusher voice than one normally encounters in a Handel soprano.

Though it has rarely (if ever?) performed opera, The English Concert, founded by Trevor Pinnock and about to celebrate its 40th anniversary, anchored the performance with thrillingly vibrant playing throughout. Particularly impressive was its principal cellist Joseph Crouch who joined with Bicket and theorbist William Carter in accompanying the recitatives and played an eloquent obbligato to Zenobia’s “Fatemi, oh Cieli.” The natural trumpets and horns were splendidly raucous in their brief appearances. This fine group clearly inspired its musical director in quite the best orchestral performance of any opera I’ve heard Bicket conduct.

My major quarrel with Bicket was the generally awkward ornamentation throughout. Rather than flatter the singers, more often than not it caused them to struggle with each repeated A section. The worst instance was Tigrane’s third aria “La sorte, il Ciel amor” where the da capo rewrote the line to a degree that it no longer made any musical sense and worked against rather than for Harvey.

New York should be grateful as Bicket’s was clearly superior to last month’s production of Radamisto at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien which was broadcast on Saturday. Conducted by Jacobs on his absolute worst behavior, it featured a tenor taking the soprano role of Tigrane, as well as both Bardon and Daniels, although he canceled the broadcast performance, replaced by a game, yet green countertenor, Rupert Enticknap.

By coincidence I arrived home from Radamisto to find that a dear European friend had emailed me a recent all-Handel concert by marvelous French contralto Delphine Galou (surely today’s best Zenobia) including her incendiary “Son contenta di morire.” Luckily, we will be able to hear Galou in the flesh this fall when she makes her US debut singing Galatea in Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo with Emmanuelle Haïm’s Le Concert d’Astrée at Alice Tully Hall.

All in all, it added up to an affecting if uneven Radamisto. One was grateful for it, but all afternoon I couldn’t help but contemplate the odd monopoly that has come to pass in eastern North America. Beginning with their collaboration in New York City Opera’s 2000 Rinaldo, it seems that every Handel opera features Harry Bicket and David Daniels. Of the five Handel productions at the MET this century (including the upcoming new Giulio Cesare), four feature Bicket, three Daniels. Chicago recently did Hercules and Rinaldo—both with Bicket-Daniels, and Toronto next season sees a revival of the Sellars Hercules, again with Bicket-Daniels. And of course next year’s presentation by The English Concert at Carnegie, Theodora, will be conducted by Harry Bicket with David Daniels as Didymus.

It’s not that Bicket and Daniels have nothing to offer; however, such unvarying programming displays a depressing lack of imagination by the presenters involved. That American audiences are invariably limited to a single exemplar—particularly one past his best—seems perverse and unnecessary. Surely anyone with an interest in 18th century opera knows there are many fine countertenors (and mezzos) singing today. Numerous conductors excel in baroque opera, even with modern instrument orchestras. I’ve attended superb Handel performances in Munich under Ivor Bolton and in Berlin with Christopher Moulds, to name only two.

And why does Carnegie believe in importing only English groups like The English Concert or Arcangelo (which does Apollo e Dafne this fall at Zankel) to perform Handel? How about inviting Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante to take a break from their yearly Vivaldi concerts? Or letting Akademie für Alte Musik tackle Bach’s contemporary? New York might just be treated to some appealingly different takes on Il Caro Sassone if someone could just try thinking out of the box.

Photo: Robert Recker

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Nice review. I know virtually nothing about Handel operas, so this is quite lot to digest. Nothing more frustrating that being a raspy old falsettist.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

    • Rowna

      Loved the review, especially hearing that Daniels had some good singing time. Hopefully he will be up to the Giulio Cesare coming up this spring at the Met. I would actually go to hear him again, but the thought of Ms Dessay for an entire evening is too unthinkable.

  • sebh8146

    If you want Handel without David Daniels and Harry Bicket, go north! This year the Boston Early Music Festival is doing Almira. Next year Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society will perform Acis and Galatea with the Mark Morris Dance Company. You’ve just missed Saul with Tafelmusik up in Toronto. You could also go west to Louisville for Bourbon Baroque’s fantastic Alcina. While you’re looking inward, why not find a great period-instrument orchestra on this side of the pond?

    • DeCaffarrelli

      Thanks to sebh8146 for pointing out the rich world of Handel performances outside of NYC. It’s a shame and an embarrassment that a high-level period-performance orchestra has not been able to prosper here. The Classical Band was a quick failure but the New York Collegium held on for a number of seasons and did some very fine work and performances were full but outside funding must have never been steady enough to secure its future. Meanwhile, numerous smaller groups do some good work here.

      NYC did trump Boston with the US stage premiere last year of Almira:

      and that same scrappy organization Opera Mission will be doing Handel’s Rodrigo in May. I hope to get to Boston in June if only to catch a rare US appearance by the superb Roberta Invernizzi.

      I was excited to read about the Mark Morris Acis and Galatea until I saw that it was being done in the Mozart version (why?) and that McGegan was conducting it.

      I believe the Tafelmusik Saul (in my opinion, Handel’s greatest oratorio) is in February 2014, with the wonderful Peter Harvey in the title role. And speaking of Canada, Bernard Labadie and his Violons du Roy are doing three performances of Theodora in May with an amazing cast that would be the envy of any group in the world: Karina Gauvin, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Iestyn Davies, Allan Clayton and Andrew Foster-Williams!

      I’d love to hear Chicago’s Baroque Band and Houston’s Mercury Baroque, for example but the opportunity has not yet arisen. Cleveland’s Apollo Fire has actually been able to break through and make recordings and recently did a European tour with Philippe Jaroussky. Little by little US orchestras may hopefully begin to challenge Europe’s dominance.

      • Howling in Tune

        Alas, the New York Collegium never dd get enough stable funding (really, they needed an endowment of $10 million or so). But they did great work, especially in Bach (though James Oestreich disagrees with me on that).

        But there IS finally a stable (more or less) good Baroque-instrument orchestra in New York. It’s attached to Trinity Church Wall Street. The free Bach at One cantata concerts they give on Mondays at St. Paul’s Chapel in Lower Manhattan (October through the holidays and March to May) are the best Baroque music in town.

        There are (and have been for years) several other period groups in New York that draw from the same pool of players and give two to four programs per year; the quality of any one of those groups, as opposed to the others, seems to depend on the particular conductor and orchestra contractor.

        Just over the past year or two, new chamber groups seem to be forming with graduates of Juilliard’s new historical performance program. So things may get better and better in New York.

      • Howling in Tune

        Oh, and let’s not forget the West Coast, DeCaffarrelli.

        In the Bay Area, there’s Philharmonia Baroque and the American Bach Soloists (the better ensemble, imho). Los Angeles has Musica Angelica, and Monica Huggett (ya know) leads the Portland Baroque Orchestra, which released a quite respectable St. John Passion a year or so ago.

        In Canada, in addition to Tafelmusik (Toronto) and Les Violons du Roy (Quebec City; modern instruments), there’s the Pacific Baroque Orchestra in Vancouver and several groups in Montreal, the biggest of which right now is, I think, Arion Baroque Orchestra.

        Philadelphia’s period group Tempesta di Mare actually has a recording contract (if that’s the right word) with Chandos, and their concerts seem to turn up on European radio somewhat regularly. (For some reason I find it entertaining to see “Iglesia presbiteriana de Chestnut Hill” on a schedule.)

        Washington, DC has Opera Lafayette; I think they only do one opera a season, but that one opera usually gets good reviews, and they got invited to perform at Versailles last year.

    • Nerva Nelli

      Also, Philly’s Curtis Opera Theater (which has done Handel works every few years, including Heidi Melton as Alcina) is staging RINALDO April 25-28.

  • pasavant

    Sitting through a Handel opera ( with male sopranos no less) , or bamboo shoots under the fingernails? Hard choice.

  • bassoprofundo

    There seems to be an inordinate amount of news on Parterre lately highlighting countertenors.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      If Anthony Roth. Costanzo can’t cope with Orlofsky, there are Chinese imitations being prepared for every occasion
      Can’t trill:

    • Well, it’s no secret to Parterrians that guys often make the best divas…

    • That’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

  • parpignol

    I don’t know the opera well enough to have noticed the cuts, but it was certainly not a dragging afternoon, and it seemed like a fairly full house was pretty convincingly engaged by a long Handel opera in concert performance; isn’t that already saying a lot? agreed that Daniels was in the best voice I’ve heard from him in a long time; and the others were all pretty satisfying Handelians; wonderful ensemble conclusion to the opera (all unknown to me), orchestra also sounded great, and the Carnegie acoustic was beautiful for Handel…

  • Camille

    I am giving the Oscar for best dress for an Opera in Concert Form to:
    Brenda Rae.

    I am glad I went but, about halfway through it, I wanted to put my head in my lap and take a nap, and then I began praying to the eternal gods that Mr. Gluck would come along to interrupt it all.

    English Consort is splendid. I will try again next year. They probably need the Bicket/Daniels ticket to convince timid ticket buyers that there is a known name brand that does this repertory and concertises extensively doing so, making it A-Okay.

    Who was the parterrian I saw on the men’s room line downstairs in tip to toe black leather? I know it was one of you guys.

    Thanks to DeCaffarrelli for making me feel a little less guilty for not having been entirely thrilled, even if I do think it was a wonderful initiative which has now commenced to see a bit more of Handel operas. There certainly DOES seem to be an audience, as there was a very attentive packed house — at least on the parquet and lower boxes. It was a privilege. grimoaldo and louann, I thought of you both and went partially with you both in mind. And Luca was hot.

    • Camille

      Runner-up for Best Dressed goes to the guy in all black leather.
      Sorry, dude, I forgot.

      • manou

        Surely Beast Dressed?

        • Camille

          This was no beast in leather. I know one of those guys.

          No, it was more like corporate meeting leather ware…very streamlined and business-like.

      • Gualtier M

        Camille if it was a gentleman of a certain age then it was Bruce-Michael Gelbert, former Mr. Fire Island.

        • Camille

          Very trim and tall. If he was a certain age, he was certainly well preserved.

          Anyway, it took guts.

    • Camille

      Attention, monsieur œdipe!

      First, I have read and re-read this thread over again to see if mention has been made of the upcoming presentation of Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s DAVID ET JONATHAS, [“the deepest of male friendships must contend with jealousy, witches, and war in this story of King Saul’s rash decision to banish his son’s best friend on the eve of battle”]—sounds like another day on parterre—given by Les Arts Florissants, no less, @ BAM during the period of 17--21 April. Four performances.

      On Friday, April 19th, there will also be a Special Concert Presentation of LE JARDIN DE MONSIEUR RAMEAU, again @ BAM & Les Arts Florissants “representing the next generation of passionate interpreters of early music, the soloists of Le Jardin des Voix are led by William Christie (co-director of Le Jardin des Voix Academy with Paul Agnew) and accompanied by the orchestra of Les Arts Florissants for a special semi-staged concert of music by Rameau, Dauvergne, Gluck, Campra, and other composers.”


      Secondly, I must correct my terrible oversight: English Concert, not Consort. Funny how that word would spring to mind along with the English. Forgive me, my Queens and Consort.


      Thirdly, utterly thrilled to discover Mo. Campra’s opera written on the theme of my life, “Camille, reine des Volsques -- tragédie en musique.”

      • oedipe

        That sounds great, Camille!

        David et Jonathas is a beautiful opera and the Andreas Homoki production is very powerful. It transposes the action to an environment resembling early 20th century Palestine, where Jews initially coexist with Moslems (Turks? Arabs?), but then conflict arises. David is Moslem, Jonathas is Jewish… The sets resemble wooden barracks and everything takes place inside these stark barracks. There is a lot of attention given to the movements of every character on the stage, it’s almost like a ballet. Very claustrophobic and expressionist. I was quite impressed.

        Oh, and BTW, next season Christie will be conducting a Campra opera at the Opéra Comique, but I don’t yet know which one.

        • Camille

          Oh goody! I’m so happy you saw this notice and thank you for the little preview of the mise-en-scène of this work. Monsieur Charpentier was himself a haute-contre singer, so I am imagining his music will be especially good in this kind of work.

          There is, additionally, a Special Screening for Friends of BAM of Lully’s ATYS in HD on Thursday, April 18th @ 6:15 pm. It is a representation of their 2011 performance at BAM. Reservations start on Monday, April 1, if you are a FRIEND.

          I noticed all this the other night in the elevator as I escaped Powder Her Face, AKA the Hasty Pudding Revue goes to Darmstadt, so I guess the evening wasn’t entirely wasted.

          Au revoir! Perhaps the Campra will be “my” opera. Keeping fingers crossed.

        • Hippolyte

          I believe the Les Arts Florissants production at the Comique next season is Rameau’s Platee which first opens in Vienna. I’ve heard that they will be doing Campra’s Les Fetes Venitiennes but I believe it’s for the following season, probably opening first in Aix (where Campra was born.)

          • oedipe

            It’s possible that the Campra will happen in the 2014/2015 season, I haven’t seen a date for it. And it’s indeed Les Fêtes Venitiennes that’s being talked about. Sorry Camille!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

  • Camille

    oh, this again. Can anyone absolutely and categorically define the difference between “haut-contre” and counter tenor? It is massively confusing to the nineteenth c. belcanto freak.

    Grazie tanto.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      See “The Enigma of the Haute-Contre” in

      • Camille

        Thank you very much, Maestro. Very kind and accommodating of you.

        It is a relief to see that even the specialists are in disagreement as to which end is what and that the various schools, English, French, Italian and the translation of terms betwixt them creates even greater confusion.

        The picture of Monsieur Jélyotte as Platée is priceless. He truly must be the UrVater of parterre box.

    • Camille: Haute-contre tenors don’t sing in alto range like counter tenors. They sing high-lying tenor parts with a lot of voix-mixte. The result is a lot of “head voice” on top but not complete falsetto. Aside from their high notes, they sound just other tenors.

      The lovely Colin Ainsworth is a good example:

      • Camille

        Merci bien, kashania.

        I am trying to sort it out a little bit. Please see the “Enigma of the Haute-Contre” above. Excellent information.

        I DO wish some countertenor/haute-contre singers would surface to lecture us all a little bit about the intricacies and exegencies of these vocal categories. There is such a wealth of repertory available, there must be many a specialist, particularly in French repertory.

  • jd

    I was there too — agree that Brenda Rae’s gown was splendid! Liked Patricia Barton’s pink and blue outfit too! Loved Pisaroni as the evil Tiridate, Rae as his put-upon wife Polissena and Joelle Harvey as loyal Tigrane, Had trouble with Daniels and Barton whose voices were much too similar! Sometimes I had to check whose mouth was moving to see who was singing. Neither was in best form. I may be chickening out of Guilio Cesare at the Met in april, esp with Dessay.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Original, uncut version of Blondchen’s aria:

    Is this the Bieito production?

  • Mstanlita

    Thank you for the review I would have liked to have written had I but world enough and time.

    Stan Metzger
    Radamisto:In Need of Some Dolce Vita

  • Back in the early 80s, I helped found a short-lived opera company called Opera Chicago. We only did one season, which consisted of the Mikado, in which I sang my first Pooh-Bah, and Radamisto, in which I sang Tiridate. It’s actually the only Baroque opera I’ve ever sung aside from one other Handel aria, Si tra i ceppi, from Berenice.

  • Camille

    As NYCO and Händel are both featured in articles back to back, it brings to mind those turn-of-the-century productions they offered in the State Theater.

    It was so popular that twice we tried to gain admittance and absolutely, positively could not get a ticket. One of the only times Monsieur Camille has not been able to practise his magical powers of manifesting tickets against impossible odds. That’s how sold out and popular those performances were!

    About those performances of the tricentenary; I presume that was that the famous performance in which MaDemoiselle Battle took up the mirror to adore Herself?
    Yes, I guess those were heady times for Handelians. It is shocking, indeed, to think so much time has elapsed since another set of performances. One would think that OONY might have done an Alcina for Fleming, e.g., or something of that sort, a Tamerlano or a Rinaldo.
    Just thinking out loud. Perdona.

  • Howling in Tune

    I’m only speculating here, but the cuts may have been to avoid paying overtime to Carnegie’s notoriously expensive stagehands.

    Re the ornamentation of da capos, shouldn’t you be blaming the singers rather than Bicket? I know that Jacobs is a control freak about his singers’ embellishments (and just about everything else), but many conductors give the singers freer rein.

  • Thanks for the history lesson, DeCaff!
    Brought back so many of those performances, though I go back to Sills & Treigle & Forrester in Giulio Cesare, which (a mere kid) I thought the bees’ knees, and an all-Handel Sutherland & orchestra concert and then Stephen Simon’s utterly disastrous four-item Handel season in 1970. Did he ever thunk! What a multiple fiasco!

    Yes, the Semele at Carnegie was the acme, the pinnacle, the apogee, the sheer Handel of Handelianism in New York.

    You also made me somewhat less upset about having missed the Rademisto, not having realized it was to be on. True, the David is NOT what he was — countertenor is a short-lived voice and maybe he should be setting up a teaching position. But can Max Cencic shoot hoops? I ask you.

    The one thing I missed in your review is a listing of the other Handel items you say are on deck at Carnegie. Where can one learn of them? Especially dates so I don’t blow it again.


    • DeCaffarrelli


      Rodrigo by Opera Mission 5.21-25.13

      Aci Galatea e Polifemo by Le Concert d’Astree at Alice Tully Hall 10.26.13 (with Oedipe favorite Sonya Yoncheva as Aci)

      Apollo e Dafne by Arcangelo at Zankel 11.18.13

      Theodora by The English Concert at Carnegie 2.2.14

  • Camille

    I really don’t think Patricia Bardon was all that bad, Egr. Sigr. DeCaffarrelli. It is a couple days now I’ve been mulling it over and I don’t quite agree. Then, I wouldn’t know a good Zenobia from a poor one, so that may be it.

    Bardon seems to get a bad rap a lot — I am thinking of what people said about her Erda. Why? It doesn’t add up to me. There’s a lot of merit in her singing. She has some temperament to go along with it, and she is neither a chubby one or an fugly one, either.

    Nol comprendo. Just thinking out loud. Perdona.