Rodelinda, Norwich

FRANK CLIFF This performance of Handel's Rodelinda showed that Jean-Marie Villagier's production, first seen in 1988 and revived here by Christopher Cowell, has lost none of its impact.

FRANK CLIFF

Last night's performance of Handel's Rodelinda at the Theatre Royal showed that Jean-Marie Villagier's production, first seen in 1988 and revived here by Christopher Cowell, has lost none of its impact.

For 10th century Lombardy, read 20th century Italy between the wars, which seems quite relevant to this convoluted tale of lust and dynastic intrigue.

It certainly looks good and there is enough stage “business”, some of it quite funny despite the basically serious subject matter, to ensure that the da capo arias never appear static.


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Musically it is magnificent, with Emma Bell superb in the title role, singing the music of this strong-willed heroine with a tremendous range of dramatic expression.

Her husband, Bertarido, was sung by Robin Blaze as an exquisite counter tenor voice, whose duet with Rosalinda at the end of act two was utterly spellbinding.

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Jean Rigby, as Eduige, and Stephen Rooke, as Grimoaldo, sang superbly. Matthew White's slightly camp Unolfo was beautifully judged, as was Jonathan Bate's villainous Garibaldo.

In the pit, Emmanuelle Hain directed from the harpsichord with real authority, extracting stylish playing from the Glyndebourne touring orchestra. More than worth braving the foul weather to see.

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