|Handel: Ottone – Nazan Fikret – English Touring Opera (Photograph Richard Hubert Smith)|
Handel: Ottone; Elizabeth Karani, Nazan Fikret, Lauren Younger, James Corridor, Kieron-Connor Valentine, Edward Jowle, director: James Conway, conductor: Gerry Cornelius; English Touring Opera at Hackney Empire
Reviewed 1 October 2022 (★★★★)
Handel’s not often carried out Ottone in a revival of James Conway’s imaginative and moderately stunning manufacturing with a solid who interact us from the outset and take us on an actual emotional journey
English Touring Opera’s Autumn season launched on Saturday (1 October 2022) with a revival of James Conway’s manufacturing of Handel’s Ottone on the Hackney Empire. This Autumn season is Conway’s farewell to the corporate, as he steps down as inventive director, and the season is a celebration of one of many firm’s strengths, performances of Baroque opera with three of Conway’s Handel productions being featured together with a brand new manufacturing of Tamerlano.
And do not forget that the corporate is not nearly performing Baroque operas, uncommon bel canto, Mozart and later classics, it’s about touring as properly. For the Autumn season seven venues throughout England will see some or the entire programme. Throughout Conway’s 20 one thing years on the helm of English Touring Opera there have been a outstanding variety of operas by Handel and different Baroque composers, all taken spherical England in a approach that no different firm can emulate.
James Conway’s manufacturing of Handel’s Ottone was revived by Christopher Moon Little. The Outdated Avenue Band was performed by Gerry Cornelius, ETO’s music director. Designs had been by takis and lighting was by Tim van’t Hof. Gillian Webster was because of sing the function of Gismonda, nonetheless owing to sickness her place was taken by Elizabeth Karani; evidently this occurred at brief discover, however Karani carried out the function on stage and gave little proof of her assumption being last-minute. Kieron-Connor Valentine was Adelberto, James Corridor was Ottone, Lauren Younger as Matilda, Nazan Fikret was Teofane and Edward Jowle was Emireno.
|Handel: Ottone – James Corridor – English Touring Opera (Photograph Richard Hubert Smith)|
Handel wrote Ottone in 1723 for what was maybe the best solid
but assembled in England, the castrato Senesino (Ottone), soprano Francesca
Cuzzoni (Teofane), alto castrato Gaetano Berenstadt (Adelberto) and soprano Margherita
Durastantini (Gismonda). It was Cuzzoni’s first opera for Handel and it was
enormously profitable, not solely receiving a goodly variety of
performances but in addition being revived commonly and even being taken to
This success has puzzled many current commentators. The opera’s libretto is
based mostly on one by Pallavicino written for Dresden and set by Antonio Lotti
in 1719. Nevertheless it was subjected to some extreme compression by Handel and
his librettist Nicola Haym. The ultimate act particularly appears, on paper,
to not make sense. One other drawback with the opera is that the title
function, Ottone, is so moist and passive as to be nearly a dim-wit. Senesino,
who sang Ottone, specialised in pathetic roles (within the 18th century in
the sense ‘affecting the feelings’) however Ottone can appear to us to be pathetic in
the trendy sense.
The nice advantage James Conway’s Handel productions from ETO is that he
takes the operas critically and tries to make them work as a stage piece.
Within the programme e-book of Ottone Conway talked about what drew
him to the opera, the outstanding scene in act two within the grotto/cave
the place every character change into extra themself and Conway twice makes use of the
idea of a fairy-tale. Ottone is just not naturalistic however tells a larger fact, and Conway’s manufacturing was about every character’s journey moderately than worrying about naturalistic element of the narrative. Additionally it is about acquainted relations, that between Ottone and Matilda, the place she was betrothed to his enemy Adelberto and continues to be drawn to the person regardless of every little thing, and that between Adelberto and Gismonda, in some ways the mom from hell.
It maybe helped that ETO carried out a reduce model of the opera with round 150 minutes of music (Robert King’s recording on Hyperion lasts 174 minutes) with Conway and Peter Jones (who was liable for the version) pruning the opera discreetly. This meant, I believe, that James Corridor’s Ottone misplaced a few of his droopier arias which lowered the character’s prominence however benefited the opera’s dramatic coherence.
The designs by takis had been easy however wonderful. The stage was a field, with blue curtained partitions. Inside this had been three constructions, sections of cylinders with curved tops in order that two might come collectively as an apse, the inside of which had elaborate ‘mosaics’ impressed by the Byzantine ones in Ravenna. The outer skins had been darkish copper, so with the constructions turned around the stage image modified. For the grotto scene, gentle shone via holes within the tops of the constructions to create magically dappled shade. The end result was easy, placing, magical and extremely transportable.
|Handel: Ottone – Lauren Younger – English Touring Opera (Photograph Richard Hubert Smith)|
The plot concerned the Emperor Ottone, James Corridor, (a personality
based mostly on a real tenth century Holy Roman Emperor) and his betrothed
the Byzantine princess Teofane (Nazan Fikret) who has simply arrived and
not met him but, Ottone has been busy capturing the pirate Emireno
(Edward Jowle). In Rome, Adelberto (Kieron-Connor Valentine) and his mom
Gismonda (Elizabeth Karani) stage a coup and Adelberto pretends to be
Ottone so he can marry Teofane, to her confusion. Ottone is alerted by
his sister Mathilde (Lauren Younger) and the marriage is prevented.
Mathilde has been betrothed to Adelberto, Teofane sees Mathilde and
Ottone collectively, errors them for lovers, and flees.
Adelberto and Emireno escape and find yourself in a grotto with Teofane
(described within the libretto as ‘A Backyard and Prospect of the Tiber, and
Fountains and Grottos, in one among which leads a Subterranean Passage,
closed up with a Stone’, although ETO check with the situation as a cave). In
reality, everybody finally ends up right here at a while, stretching credulity however
giving the work a moderately mysterious high quality – again to James Conway’s fairy-tale. And naturally, all is
resolved in the long run.
So, does it work? The music is of a really excessive order and, regardless of
strictures from Winton Dean, does appear to be of a finely uniform
high quality and the singing was of a really excessive order. By concentrating on the person emotional journeys, we turned much less fearful about dramatic plausibility and extra engaged with every of the characters. The opera additionally has some intriguing musical options, not solely a duet (within the grotto) between two opposing characters, Gismonda (Elizabeth Karani) and Matilda (Lauren Younger) who quickly discover frequent goal, but in addition the second within the first half when Ottone (James Corridor) captured Adelberto (Kieron-Connor Valentine) and Corridor took over the second half of Valentine’s aria. Handel’s writing for the scenes within the grotto and for the later shipwreck deliver out a component in his writing which turns into nearly Romantic!
|Handel: Ottone – Edward Jowle, Nazan Fikret – English Touring Opera (Photograph Richard Hubert Smith)|
James Corridor made a wonderful, upstanding Ottone; it helped that he seemed the half, and the ‘pathetic’ factor got here out as stoicism moderately than him being merely a drip. Corridor sang his sooner passages with nice verve which introduced a extra lively feeling to the character and was extremely sympathetic within the extra melancholy components. Corridor can also be singing Andronico within the new manufacturing of Tamerlano, and I’m now trying ahead to this enormously.
Nazan Fikret made a fragile seeming Teofane. Topic to a lot but all the time surviving, Fikret may need drooped elegantly and successfully in her ‘pathetic’ arias, however she engaged us musically and recommended Teofane had stoic qualities of her personal, beneath. Fikret had an attractive approach together with her music and all the time held the stage even when not being very optimistic, a wonderful efficiency certainly.
Kieron-Connor Valentine was splendidly oily as Adelberto, efficiently suggesting the character’s dodgy nature and making Teofane’s lack of belief in him fully plausible. Valentine mixed this weaselly factor to the character with a wonderful strategy to the music, there was a lot to take pleasure in.
Gismonda was written for Margherita Durastantini, one among Handel’s longest collaborators (they first labored collectively in Rome in 1707) and evidently a wonderful singing actress. Gismonda goes via a complete number of feelings; sure, she is pushy and manipulative, however she loves her son and her second within the grotto nearly makes her sympathetic. However not for lengthy, and in the direction of the top of the opera she was again taunting Ottone, till Adelberto is introduced in captive by Emireno. All through this, Elizabeth Karani was mesmerising, nice fantastic thing about tone softening the sting of the character, however with Karani nonetheless retaining Gismonda’s great killer instincts. Positively the mom from hell.
Lauren Younger introduced out Matilda’s conflicted nature, the way in which that great vehemence alternated with doubt and affection for the weaselly Adelberto. That she nonetheless love’s such an unimpressive character was balanced by Younger’s sheer vividness in depicting the character, this Matilda was robust minded certainly. Younger gave us an lively, extremely dramatic efficiency of this conflicted character and made us sit up when she sang.
Emireno is a small function, however necessary. A pirate captured by Ottone, he’s concerned in Adelberto’s escape the place Teofane is caught up too. Ultimately brother and sister recognise one another, thus tying issues up neatly and when now we have the ultimate coro, there are thus a number of pairings, Ottone is betrothed to Teofane, Ottone & Matilda are siblings, Teofane & Emireno are siblings, Matilda is betrothed to Adelberto, and Gismonda is Adelberto’s mom. The form of neat tying up of ends that the 18th century dramatists beloved. Edward Jowle managed to make Emireno a tough diamond, and introduced a plausible factor to the fairy story. Like many such roles in Handel, there was moderately too little for Jowle to get his tooth into, however this was his principal debut with ETO (he had beforehand sung within the refrain in 2017) and I sit up for listening to him do extra.
Within the pit, Gerry Cornelius and the Outdated Avenue Band (ETO’s interval instrument ensemble, based in 2011) gave us a robust account of the rating. Cornelius stored issues shifting, retaining the music pacey and never permitting yawning gaps, in order that the drama rattled lengthy simply with pauses for the arias in a approach which felt proper, and properly paced.
The opera was sung in English (translated by Andrew Porter and James Conway) and while every little thing was not understandable, so much was and with the assistance of the brief summaries within the surtitles we might observe by way of the singers’ phrases moderately than listening to music while studying the plot by way of the surtitles.
|Handel: Ottone – Kieron-Connor Valentine, Edward Jowle, James Corridor, Nazran Fikret – English Touring Opera (Photograph Richard Hubert Smith)|
The very best tribute I could make to performers and manufacturing was that it grabbed us from the start and held our consideration all through with a way of vividness to the efficiency and actual improvement of character. You wished to know who these individuals had been and why. Ottone is just not the best of Handel’s operas, however he was a wonderful musical dramatist and ETO confirmed that the opera is deserving of its place on the stage, moderately than merely being one thing of a curiosity.
By no means miss out on future posts by following us
The weblog is free, however I might be delighted when you had been to point out your appreciation by shopping for me a espresso.
Elsewhere on this weblog
- Theatrical grandeur: ENO launches its new season with Christoph Loy’s new manufacturing of Tosca – opera evaluate
- From Scandinavia to Buenos Aires by the use of Paris and Vienna: the Hatfield Home Chamber Music competition opens with a showcase for its assorted artists – live performance evaluate
- A splendidly vivid night: Blackheath Halls Opera in Bernstein’s Candide – opera evaluate
- Rather more than area of interest repertoire: Tredegar Band’s Vaughan Williams on Brass – file evaluate
- Edward Gardner & the LPO’s Autumn season opened in spectacular vogue with Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder; composer Florence Anna Maunders was there – live performance evaluate
- From low comedy and satire to subtlety and class: conductor John Andrews chats about Lampe’s The Dragon of Wantley, Gilbert & Sullivan and extra – interview
- A uncommon look in London, however a welcome one to make sure: Offenbach’s La Princesse de Trébizonde from Opera Rara – opera evaluate
- Celebrating 40 years on stage: Max Emanuel Cencic performs a programme of arias Handel wrote for the castrato Senesino – live performance evaluate
- Couperin’s Trois Leçons de Ténèbres pour le Mercredi Saint at Bayreuth Baroque – live performance evaluate
- The Trocs go to the opera? Vinci’s Alessandro nell’Indie with 5 counter-tenors at Bayreuth Baroque Opera Competition – opera evaluate
- The environment, historical past & risks of the sandbank: Michael Betteridge’s Voices of the Sands – opera evaluate
- A feminine pope, a carry, an angel and a demon: Edward Lambert’s new opera The Burning Query reviewed by Florence Anna Maunders – opera evaluate
Leave a Reply