A baroque opera is always an event. First, and in the case of Alcina, for the excellence of their music. And secondly by the few opportunities we have to enjoy.
One can say that Alcina was the final product after the bad relationship of two geniuses of Baroque music. Haendel as a composer who was then a conductor at the Royal Academy of Music (1720-1728), based at King's Theatre, and the counter Senesino as interpreter of most of his compositions.
In 1734 the differences between the two are accentuated and they decide to separate. The composer leaves the King's Theater, to settle in Covent Garden, and Senesino starts working for a new Italian composer, Nicola Porpora, founding in the King's Theater the new company "Opera of the Nobility" (Nobility Opera).
This new business situation supposed an operatic duel between the former collaborators. Handel felt the obligation to create a work capable of competing with his rival in London at the time.. And this is where our protagonist appears, Alcina.
The taste for the most extravagant mythology that occurred at the time of its composition, led Handel to look at an anonymous script, based on L´isola d´Alcina from Riccardo Broschi, based in turn on Cantos VI and VII of the epic poem Orlando Furioso (1516) from Ludovico Ariosto. A tale in which the sorceress Alcina turns her former lovers into animals or rocks.
Alcina has long been unjustly condemned to remain outside the usual repertoires. Accused of "unrepresentable" and for alleged difficulties in dramatizing a devilish libretto where the interrelation of the characters almost forces the viewer to use a who's who guide.
This production of the Bordeaux Opera consists of different aspects to take into account. The first, and more important, Handel's extraordinary music. A baroque masterpiece second only to Julius Caesar. This is the main reason why it is not understood that the public does not finish filling the theater or, even, leave it in one of the two breaks of which it has consisted. But maybe we will find later the explanation to this urgent need for dinner.
The scenic proposal of David Alden It is inspired by the movie of Woody Allen, The Purple Rose of Cairo. Under the idea of the theater within the theater, Alden discovers the fantastic key to the work. As two sides of the same coin it presents the dream and the reality. Maybe that's why Alcina sings her first aria behind the curtain.
From the world of dreams, of fantasy. It is at that moment when the story begins. A decadent theater and the entrance to the boxes, are the main stages of the play.
Despite this outpouring of genius by David Alden, the scenic proposal does not finish reaching the public. It is excessively static in some cases and in others lack of rhythm and balance. There are times when the disconnect between music and scene is evident. The slight illumination of Simon Mills knows how to fill the small details with light, but it darkens situations that require more brightness. A code book is missing, not just to identify the characters, also to know the meaning of some scenes.
The general impression is that, maybe, the Royal Theater is a bit too big for this production. But who is really big has been some of the components of this second cast.
María José Moreno brings to life a sharp and cheerful Morgana. Performing his main arias skillfully and displaying almost pyrotechnic qualities in the “Go back to wandering”. Its treble and lightness brightened its impeccable performance.
Sofia Soloviy it has been a very solvent Alcina, especially in interpretation. Its elegant singing line gave us an Alcina with a certain aristocratic appearance.
Jose Maria Lo Monaco, as Ruggiero, it didn't happen to be nice. Its "Verdi prati"The second act was full of emotion.
The rest of the cast did not have their night. A Angelique Noldus you could barely hear her and Johannes Weisser, as Melisso, made viewers suffer in some of his speeches. The same happened to Anthony Gregory Y Franceca Lombardi Mazzulli. Sometimes their voices didn't seem to come out of their necks.
A great theater should not allow the suffering of some singers on stage. Nor does that of some viewers who pay the same price to listen to leading figures.
The orchestral conducting of Cristopher Moulds it was a balm. Demonstrated how you can achieve a baroque sound without the need for vintage instruments. He always accompanied each instrument of the Orchestra and each singer on stage and always smiling. We must highlight the musicians who performed from the stage, Eva Jornet Y Red Melody, Recorders. Victor Ardelean, violin and a master Simon Veis a cello.
Text: Paloma Sanz
pictures: Javier del Real
Videos: Teatro Real
georg Friedrich Handel
D. musical: Christopher Moulds
D. scene: David Alden
Escenógrafo y costume: Gideon Davey
Lighting: Simon Mills
choreographer: Beate Vollack
Distribution: Sofia Soloviy, María José Moreno, Jose Maria Lo Monaco, Angelique Noldus, Johannes Weisser, Anthony Gregory, Francesca Lombardi Mazzulli.
Head of the Royal Theatre Orchestra