A US and European tour of Handel’s masterpiece Ariodante that starts in Michigan in April stops off in London before ending in Paris in May. And so, for one night only at the Barbican, the great American mezzo-soprano DiDonato sings the title role in the story of tangled love.
DiDonato has form in this role: her recording of it five years ago received rave reviews, and critics are unanimous that this, in many ways her signature role, is ideally suited to her dramatic, colourful mezzo-soprano voice.
She is joined by soloists including the British bass-baritone Matthew Brook as the King of Scotland and the German mezzo-soprano Christiane Karg as his daughter Ginevra, in love with the dashing Ariodante. Which comes as a big surprise to his friend Polinesso, who thinks she is in love with him.
Both Ariodante and Polinesso are “trouser roles” – male characters sung by female singers. In the case of Ariodante himself, the role was originally sung by the castrato Giovanni Carestini, when the opera was premiered in London in 1735. The German-born Handel had first created a sensation in London with his mould-breaking opera Rinaldo 25 years before, and the music-hungry capital was eager to see how he would start his first season at Covent Garden.
The opera house there that now houses the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet was then called the Theatre Royal. There had been a theatre on that site before, but the current building had opened with drama in 1731, presented its first ballet in 1734, and naturally gave the first opera season to the superstar Handel. After a revival of an earlier hit, Ariodante was the first of the new Handel operas staged there.
It’s a natural fit for the London date on 16 May 2017, then, and the promising cast, coupled with the superb instrumental musicianship of The English Concert conducted by Harry Bicket makes this one for the diary.
And there’s one other note to make: a few minutes spent beforehand getting one’s head around who is male, who is female, and who loves whom and why and when, will make the evening go with even more of a swing.
|Where||Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Barbican (underground)|
On 16 May 17, 7:00 PM – 10:15 PM
|Price||£15 - £65|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|