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In the opera proper, Anne Schwanewilms made a dignified, moving and stylish Ariadne. She has a lovely silvery voice, hers is not a big boned performance. Aided by Colin Davis in the pit she sometimes fined her tone right down, rarely have I heard this part sung so finely. I found her style, dignity and shapely phrasing somehow more moving than Petra Lang who sang the role in the previous run.

From left to right: Jeremy White (Truffaldino), Christopher Lemmings (Scaramuccio), Anne Schwanewilms (Ariadne) and Grant Doyle (Harlequin). Photo © 2004 Clive Barda
From left to right: Jeremy White (Truffaldino), Christopher Lemmings (Scaramuccio), Anne Schwanewilms (Ariadne) and Grant Doyle (Harlequin). Photo © 2004 Clive Barda

Grant Doyle, Alasdair Elliott, Christopher Lemmings and Jeremy White were the four comedians, here something more like rough street-life than comedia dell'arte -- a view of the roles that constantly jars as it is not supported by Strauss's music. Damrau's performance in this act can only be described as stunning. Her coloratura was superbly executed, yet finely integrated into the performance; each roulade told you something about Zerbinetta and was not just a cause for showing off. Naiad and Dryad (here re-assigned as something like chamber maid and PA) were finely sung by Ha Young Lee and Christine Rice; the latter looking visually pregnant. (If she is pregnant in real life, then I applaud her breath control; if she is not, then I am bemused by the director's take on this role). Rachel Nicholls was Echo, dressed as the ghost of an eighteenth century boy -- another of Loy's curiously fascinating ideas.

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Copyright © 17 July 2004 Robert Hugill, London UK

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