ALCINA. Musically highlight in Lausanne.
Review by Henning Høholt
Upon waiting for returning to their normal home in the opera house of Lausanne, new opening 5. October 2012. The opera ensemble is giving performances in Metropol, a large concert house, but with a too little scenic space. – It works well.
The latest production is ALCINA by Georg Friedrich Händel, presented with musicality played by the outstanding Chamber Orhestra of Lausanne conducted by Ottavio Dantone, who has the good fingertip feeling for this kind of music, gave us great tempi, and in the orchestra had a lot of outstanding soloists, I specially noticed the two Flutes and the Theorbe. – I would have preferred that the orchestra has been placed higher up, so the audience could have followed their work better. – But in this room, I suppose it is not possible.
Alcina has in Lausanne been placed into a modern scenography, by practical reasons. Unfortunately, this scenography doesn’t suit Alcina well. It could perhaps have been useful for a modernized version of a La Boheme. It was like a house without walls in two floors, build on top of something looking like a café or a cantina And in the one corner, by practical reasons, I suppose? the dressing up corner, which many times completely disturbed many beautiful parts of the performance. And sometimes took the attention away from the splendid solo cast. Headed by the wonderful Russian soprano Olga Peretyatko, very close followed up by Sophie Graf as her sister Morgane, and in this case with a very handsome counter tenor. Florin Cezar Ouatu as Ruggiero. In this case it was a good choice by the casting department to let a handsome male singer, Florin Cezar Ouatu, be the contrast to Vitelia and Morgana, instead of letting a Mezzo-soprano play that role. He was wonderful.
Furthermore Bradamante was brilliant performed and sung by Delphine Galou. Oronte was sung by the elegant and handsome tenor Juan Francisco Gatell, with very good details in his singing. The hit in the very end was the last aria to Oberto Paolo Lopez, which performed a powerful intensity, which suited the role and that special aria perfect, and was a real hit. Mefisto was sung by Giovanni Furlanetto, which I didn’t feel was right for the role, he didn´t follow up the light play full theme in the performance.
The opera contains several musical sequences with opportunity for dance. The productions operatic parts was staged very well by Marco Santi. Which, as often usual with Händel had chosen to include a dancing group, the Dance Company from Theater St. Gallen. – This production is a co-production with Theater St. Gallen. This dance company has a lot of beautiful dancers. Unfortunately there were no real dance soloists, who could lift the demanding and long solo parts well, which did that some of the single solos worked well, so did a male solo with a darkhaired dancer was very good and harmoneuse, he has some of what a soloist need. Other demanding solos didn´t work well. Sometime the company’s dancing together, and also some of the pas de deux parts became clumsy. For me it looked like that Marco Santi who also is the choreographer, together with the dancers don’t have the good theft for what kind of movements could suit each part. And as some of the parts has a text, and are being followed by dancers, it didn’t seem to me, that there was any matching between the text and the movements by the dancers.
The opening part, with too much sex inspired dance, was, for me, completely taking away the concentration from the singers, and then I lost the introduction to the opera, as I didn´t understand what they wanted to tell me. And during the way it was some times too much. With one good exception. The War dance, was brilliant. This choreographic part were well made, and it suited the play. – Sometimes when there is a beautiful and well formed long symphonic introduction to a following recitative and aria, it was very much disturbance, that the dancers was changing in the one corner openly at the same time. This changing could have been hidden by some decoration, or a little wall or a curtain. As the symphonic parts, which was splendid played, can stay alone, and too many of the airas, still some are long, they don’t need to be disturbed by some staging entertainment, better a few good well functioning dance parts, than too much!
The costumes was a strange mixture by Katharina Beth. But the lighting by Guido Petzold was good and made good atmosphere. Some time the video on the back wall by Kristian Breitenbach was confusing, but in the end with the blood, it worked well.
The management are giving possibilities to a lot of outstanding young singers, and it was a pleasure to listen to so good an ensemble in these demanding roles.
Opera de Lausanne has been shortening the play with app. one hour, as it is permitted to choose to cut out some arias. However, some famous arias were missing, and sometimes I had the feeling that because of that some of the dramatically history was being lost, as the text in the missing arias and scenes are building up the drama, and then, when some important parts are missing, the history is not easily to follow.
Conductor Ottavio Dantone
Director Marco Santi*
Choreograph Marco Santi and dancers
Set designer Katrin Hieronimus*
Costume designer Katharina Beth*
Lighting designer Guido Petzold*
Video Kristian Breitenbach*
Chef de choeur Véronique Carrot
Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne
Tanzkompagnie des Theaters St. Gallen
Opéra de Lausanne choir
Alcina, Opera by Georg Friedrich Händel,
Libretto by Antonio Fanzaglia after OrlandoFurioso by Ludovico Ariosto arranged by Antonio Marchi.
Premiered for the first time at Covent Garden in London April 16th 1735. Like the composer’s other works in the opera seria genre, it fell into obscurity; after a revival in Brunswick 1738 it was not performed again until a production in Leipzig in 1928.
The Australian soprano Joan Sutherland sang the role in a production by Franco Zeffirelli in which she made her debut at Teatro La Fenice in February 1960 and at the Dallas Opera in November of that year. She performed in the same production at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 1962. It was performed at Ledlanet, Scotland, in 1969.
A major production was that of Robert Carsen, staged originally for the Opera de Paris in 1999 and repeated at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, which featured Renée Fleming in the title role.