At Last, Rinaldo at Teatro Colón

ArgentinaArgentina  Handel, Rinaldo: Soloists and Orchestra of Teatro Colón, Martin Haselboeck (conductor), Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. 15.6.2012. (JSJ)

Rinaldo: Franco Fagioli
Almirena: Verónica Cangemi
Armida: Inessa Galante
Gofredo: Daniel Taylor
Eustazio: Damián Ramírez
Argante: Víctor Torres
Sirens: Marisú Pavón, Oriana Favaro
Herald: Lucas Villalba

Rinaldo at Teatro Colón from l. Daniel Taylor, Víctor Torres, Damián Ramírez, Verónica Cangemi, Inessa Galante, Franco Fagioli, and Martin Haselboeck. (Photo Teatro Colón)

It’s taken just 300 years for Handel’s wonderful Rinaldo to come to Buenos Aires, and this not a full production but a concert version. While one can hardly say that it was worth the wait – despite the resurgence of interest in Handel’s operas over the last half century, barely a handful have been put on here – it was an outstanding production given by a strong “home led” cast.

Rinaldo is of course a seminal work in Handel’s oeuvre, being his first, and the first Italian opera, for the London stage. Like so many of his works, it has strong characters traversing the full range of emotions, with remarkable music that not once flags.

Inevitably a concert production loses some of the dramatic element as it reduces to a succession of recitatives and arias, but here it was no less powerful and to some extent minimized with the singers coming on and off stage as required and singing from different points of the stage. And Víctor Torres particularly tried to give some movement to his part in the limited space available.

Argentines Franco Fagioli and Verónica Cangemi, who have made their careers overseas and perform here all too infrequently, led the cast. Fagioli has an unusual timbre and shows much virtuosity, as in a breathless “Venti turbini”. Cangemi too as Almirena was beautifully expressive, particularly in the “Lascia ch’io pianga”, and with the particular sense of delight that seems to imbue her style.

Torres, apart from the disadvantage of the Act 1 “Sibilar gli angui d’Aletto” from behind the orchestra, was a solid Argante, while Inessa Galante was an expressive Armida and Daniel Taylor was a refined Gofredo. Damián Ramírez brought a freshness but exaggerated gesturing to Eustazio and the two sirens, Marisú Pavón and Oriana Favaro, and the herald, Lucas Villalba, rounded up the cast with good performances.

The largish Colón orchestra, supplemented with three theorbos and recorders, played with deftness under Martin Haselboeck who maintained good tempi and balance. Notable were the fine solos of Norberto Broggini on the harpsichord and the birdsong sopranino of the young Mercedes Blanco Mengoni.

Now let’s hope that we don’t have to wait the 300 years for more of Handel’s operas!


Jonathan Spencer Jones