A Splendid Start to Madrid’s CNDM Opera Season

SpainSpain Handel, SerseEnsemble Matheus, Jean-Christophe Spinosi (conductor),  Auditorio Nacional de Música, Madrid, 22.11.2015. (JMI)

Handel, Serse (Concert Version)


Serse: Josè Maria Lo Monaco
Arsamene: Sonia Prina
Romilda: Hanna Husahr
Amastre: Ivonne Fuchs
Atalanta: Kerstin Avemo
Elviro: Christian Senn
Ariodate: Luigi De Donato

The opera season at the Centro Nacional de Difusión Musical (CNDM) is off to a fine start with this concert version of Serse by the Ensemble Matheus under the baton of Jean-Christophe Spinosi. After being disappointed a few days ago by Mr. Spinosi’s Missa Solemnis at the Palau de la Música Catalana, it was a pleasure to hear the Handel performance by this excellent conductor and his orchestra. Obviously, Beethoven is not Handel, and both Mr. Spinosi and the Ensemble Matheus are at their best in Baroque music.

Mr. Spinosi’s conducting was energetic, sensitive and personal. I’ve always found his Baroque concerts extremely rewarding, and this one was no exception. He offered a delicate and enjoyable Serse, and took excellent care of the singers. There was also a great performance from the Ensemble Matheus, who even sang the sailors chorus.

Josè Maria Lo Monaco was Serse, and her performance was much improved over the last time that I saw her (in Alcina at Teatro Real). It certainly helps to sing in front of the orchestra, but it also it helps a lot to have a supportive conductor.

Sonia Prina as Arsemene was excellent. Her voice is not a paragon of beauty, but she is always a success in this repertoire.

Romilda was performed by Swedish soprano Hanna Husahr, whose voice is well suited to the role. She is a light soprano with an attractive timbre, although her voice is somewhat monotonous. German mezzo soprano Ivonne Fuchs was a solid interpreter of Amastre and sang with gusto.

Swedish soprano Kerstin Avemo was Atalanta, and I must say that she is a true stage animal, as she has proved on other occasions. I remember particularly her performance as Despina at Teatro Real. Vocally, she is not at the same height, but her poise and charm make the audience forget details and enjoy her interpretation.

Baritone Christian Senn did well, offering a sympathetic Elviro, but Luigi De Donato was rather coarse as Ariodate.

The audience was very pleased with the outcome of the concert, offering cheers and bravos to maestro and orchestra. Among the singers, the biggest cheers were for Sonia Prina and Josè Maria Lo Monaco.

José M. Irurzun

Leave a Comment