RODELINDA by George Frederick Handel (Canadian Opera Company). October 28 and 30, Friday 7:30 pm, Sunday 2 pm. See Theatre: Continuing for details. Rating: NNNN
Full of beautiful, emotionally rich melodies, Handel 's opera Rodelinda is also a powerful domestic drama, in which the title character and her husband, Bertarido, go through a roller-coaster series of separations and reunions. Director Tim Albery translates the action into a 20s, almost Chekhovian setting, where Rodelinda, mistakenly thinking herself widowed, is wooed by the determined Grimoaldo. Encouraged by the even more ambitious Garibaldo, Grimoaldo has broken his engagement to Bertarido's sister, Eduige.
The plot may sound confusing, but onstage the action is lucid, especially with a powerhouse cast led by Danielle de Niese as Rodelinda, totally convincing in arias that alternate between the heartbroken and the fiery.
Countertenor Gerald Thompson 's Bertarido has the two most famous numbers of the show, including a thrilling final aria, but it's countertenor Daniel Taylor , smoother and lighter in tone, who offers the evening's most stylish singing as Unulfo. Ironically, Michael Colvin 's Grimoaldo, caught between desire and guilt, is the dramatic centre of the piece; the tenor also offers some fine vocal work.
Conductor Harry Bicket leads a wonderfully brisk, translucent reading of the score, and Dany Lyne 's design both grounds the household action in a realistic set and creates a fantasy realm above it, in which the outer world is out of kilter until the opera's happy ending.