Bejun Mehta and Lisette Oropesa Shine in Handel’s Rodelinda in Barcelona

09/03/2019

 Handel, Rodelinda: Liceu Orchestra / Josep Pons (conductor), Gran Theatre del Liceu, Barcelona, 8.3.2019. (JMI)

Liceu’s Rodelinda © A. Bofill

Production:

Director – Claus Guth (original), Marcelo Buscaino (revival)
Sets and Costumes – Christian Schmidt
Lighting – Joachim Klein

Cast:

Rodelinda – Lisette Oropesa
Bertarido – Bejun Mehta
Grimoaldo – Joel Prieto
Eduige – Sasha Cooke
Unulfo – Gerald Thomson
Garibaldo – Gianluca Margheri
Flavio – Fabián Augusto Gómez

This is the first time that Rodelinda has been staged at Barcelona’s Liceu – almost 300 years after its 1725 premiere in London. In fact, until 1964 no opera by Handel had been performed here; the first one was Giulio Cesare, which was later followed by five more titles.

This Rodelinda was a co-production with the operas houses of Lyon and Frankfurt and the Teatro Real, where it premiered in 2017. It features an excellent staging, and is beautifully directed by Claus Guth. The performance worked very well in musical terms too, including superb performances by the two main protagonists.

The story is told through the memories of Flavio, the son of Rodelinda and Bertarido, who is always present on stage. The sets consist of a rotating stage with a mansion, all in white, on two levels. On one side, there is a dining room with Rodelinda’s room above it; as the stage turns, one notes interior staircases that lead to corridors and other rooms, and at the last turn we are at the front of the house. One advantage of this rotating stage is that it kept things lively, avoiding a certain lack of action which can be a problem in Baroque opera. The costumes have been brought up to modern times, and are particularly suitable in the case of Rodelinda. The lighting was handled well, and good use was made of video projections.

I was initially surprised that the musical direction was in the hands of Liceu’s music director, Josep Pons, since in recent years Baroque music is often performed by specialized orchestras and conductors. Mr. Pons’s reading seemed a bit flat in the first part of the opera but got much better as the evening continued. It was not at the level offered by Ivor Bolton at the Teatro Real, but things worked quite nicely overall.

The character of Rodelinda was interpreted by soprano Lisette Oropesa, who gave a most convincing performance. I have written before that, for me, the part demands a heavier voice than that of a light soprano, which is what one had in the Madrid performance. Lisette Oropesa is more than a pure light soprano, singing with gusto and perfectly solving the coloratura issues of the score. Her voice is perfectly projected, and there was no problem hearing her in a theatre as large as the Liceu. To this one must add that she is also a remarkable actress.

Bertarido, the King of Lombardy who has disappeared, was sung once again by countertenor Bejun Mehta, whose performance was outstanding from beginning to end. With an interpreter like Bejun Mehta, the opera could be entitled Bertarido since the character acquires a special dimension. Mehta’s singing was great, full of emotion, and he has an excellent vocal technique. A terrific performance.

Grimoaldo was interpreted by tenor Joel Prieto. His voice is attractive, and he is a good singer though somewhat tight at the upper end. His biggest problem has to do with coloratura, so demanded in these Baroque operas. I think his voice is better suited to Mozart operas. Eduige, Bertarido’s sister and Grimoaldo’s fiancée, was mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who was correct in the part, though I prefer a contralto in this character.

Unulfo, the counselor of Bertarido and Rodelinda, was sung by countertenor Gerald Thompson, whose performance was convincing in every way. More modest was Italian baritone Gianluca Margheri in the part of Garibaldo. Finally, I should mention the performance of actor Fabián Augusto Gómez as Flavio, who was repeating his performance in Madrid from two years ago.

José M. Irurzun

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • NEW! Roman River 2019 Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! Bregenz Festival 17 July – 18 August 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Musikfest Berlin 2019 from 30 August to 19 September __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! CHORUS MASTER STEPHEN DOUGHTY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • NEW! MULTI-FACETED MUSICIAN JOY LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet Announces Winners of Emerging Dancer 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR LAURENCE EQUILBEY IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month