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Handel: Rodelinda / Bolton, Röschmann, Chance, Palmer

Handel / Roschmann / Chance / Nilon / Bolton
Release Date: 04/26/2005 
Label:  Farao   Catalog #: 108060  
Composer:  George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher RobsonPaul NilonDorothea RöschmannFelicity Palmer,   ... 
Conductor:  Ivor Bolton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

PCM-Stereo, dts Surround; subtitles in German, English, Italian, Japanese; format 16:9, NTSC; Region Code 0 (all regions) recorded in conjunction with Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich State Opera, 2004.

The years 1724/25 saw three of Handel's greatest operas: Giulio Cesare, Tamerlano, and Rodelinda. There are fine CD sets and videos of the first two, but Rodelinda has been unlucky on CD. Here however, on DVD, Rodelinda has clicked; this is a wonderful performance. Director David Alden has updated the action to the 1940s or '50s--what we get is a terrific film noir/Mafioso account of the story. Garibaldo is an unforgivable thug, the haughty Eduige drinks too much, Grimoaldo is a man who has
Read more done wrong but grows to realize that a life of crime is not for him, Rodelinda is the endlessly put-upon wife of the good guy being strong-armed by the baddies, and Bertarido is the picture of the wronged leader whose power has been usurped--vulnerable but dignified. Of course, this is all in Handel's amazing score, but Alden makes it valid 12 centuries later. The sets are stark and dark, a brick wall implies an alleyway in which no good is being conjured up, and a Mercedes limo shows us the characters' status. Only the third act, with its dingy little rooms, makes little impact.

Dorothea Röschmann is the finest Rodelinda I've heard and seen. Her Penelope-like steadfastness always rings true, the voice is lovely and expressive, and in aria after aria she pinpoints Rodelinda's feelings of sadness, anger, and (eventually) joy. Michael Chance's Bertarido may not be the strongest vocal interpretation around (anyone who has heard David Daniels or Andreas Scholl in the part will agree), but he's an uninhibited stage presence and moves us greatly. As Grimoaldo, Paul Nilon uses his tenor fluently and is particularly fine in his last-act turn-around. Felicity Palmer's Eduige is not to be messed with, and she sings with absolute security. Umberto Chiummo is a bullying Garibaldo and Christopher Robson proves a somewhat weak Unulfo.

The picture (16:9; NTSC) and sound (DTS Surround; PCM Stereo) are superb (the dark stage is, well, dark), and there are subtitles in German, English, Italian, and Japanese. This is a real stunner; highly recommended.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Rodelinda, HWV 19 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Christopher Robson (Countertenor), Paul Nilon (Tenor), Dorothea Röschmann (Soprano),
Felicity Palmer (Soprano), Michael Chance (Countertenor), Umberto Chiummo (Bass)
Conductor:  Ivor Bolton
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1725; London, England 
Date of Recording: 7/2003 

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