A Beautifully Sung New Staging of Haydn’s Rarely Performed Orlando paladino

GermanyGermany Munich Opera Festival 2018 [6] – Haydn, Orlando paladino: Münchener Kammerorchester / Ivor Bolton (conductor). Prinzregententheater, Munich, 25.7.2018. (JMI)

Munich Opera Festival’s Orlando paladino © W. Hösl

Orlando – Mathias Vidal
Angelica – Adela Zaharia
Medoro – Dovlet Nurgeldiyev
Eurilla – Elena Sancho Pereg
Pasquale – David Portillo
Alcina – Tara Erraught
Rodomonte – Edwin Crossley-Mercer
Caronte – François Lis
Licone – Guy de Mey

Direction – Axel Ranisch
Sets and Costumes – Falko Herold
Lighting – Michael Bauer
Choreography – Magdalena Padrosa Celada

Every year the Munich Festival presents a rarely seen opera at the Prinzregententheater. On this occasion it was Joseph Haydn’s Orlando paladino, in an imaginative new production that featured fine musical direction and a strong vocal cast.

Considered to be the Father of the Symphony, Haydn is less known for his operas, although he did compose in that genre, especially while in the service of the Esterházy family. In the symphonic field his importance is indisputable, but it’s not the same with his operas. They often lack variety and inspiration, especially when compared to those of his contemporary, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It is the difference between a great musician and a musical genius.

Orlando paladino premiered in 1782 and is the penultimate of the operas from the Esterházy period. The work belongs to the heroic-burlesque genre and is well constructed, although it has a poor libretto in dramatic terms: not much happens throughout the performance.

The Munich Opera Festival commissioned this new production by Axel Ranisch, which brings the action up to modern times and takes place in a movie theater where the film ‘Angelica and Medoro’ is being shown. The production begins in an interesting way but it has its ups and downs, especially in the second act. In particular, some of the projected images on the background screen are more attractive and engaging than others.

The musical direction was handled by conductor Ivor Bolton, which is always a guarantee of solid work in this type of repertoire. He drew a splendid performance from the Munich Kammerorchester.

The most important character from a vocal point of view is Angelica, in love with Medoro and an object of desire for Orlando and Rodomonte. Soprano Adela Zaharia gave a convincing performance: she has an appealing voice and sang her arias with good taste and fine agilities.

The part of Medoro was nicely covered by tenor Dovlet Nurgeldiyev, who is part of the Hamburg Opera. He is a light tenor with an attractive voice and would be an excellent Don Ottavio.

Orlando, the knight of the opera’s title, was interpreted by tenor Mathias Vidal, who did well in the role. Tenor David Portillo did a good job as Pasquale; the character has moments of great brilliance in the opera and Portillo handled them effectively.

The character of Eurilla was perfectly played by Elena Sancho Pereg, in terms both of singing and acting, while Tara Erraught in the part of Alcina had a beautiful, well-managed voice. Edwin Crossley-Mercer was adequate as Rodomonte, a character who sparks less vocal interest than the others. François Lis impressed in his brief appearance as Caronte, and Guy de Mey was also correct in the episodic part of Licone.

The theatre was fully sold out. The audience gave a very warm reception to the artists at the final bows with the biggest ovations for Ivor Bolton, Adela Zaharia and David Portillo. There were also loud bravos for Elena Sancho Pereg and Tara Erraught.

José M. Irurzun

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