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It is a testament of the confidence of Talevi's production that he managed to include little touches of humour without distorting Handel's dramatic structure. It helped that, as with everything else in the production, Talevi was sparing. His great strength seems to be an ability to trust the music and to allow the singers to make the music drama speak for itself. This meant that the production was dramatic without ever being distracting, so that when necessary Talevi allowed the listener to concentrate on the music.

With a group of young singers at his disposal, Talevi's production was at times very physical but he never overdid things and was enormously sympathetic to the singers when they were required to sing the more virtuoso passages.

This was one of the most satisfying productions of a Handel opera that I have seen in a long time. Alessandro Talevi and his talented young cast did not rely on gimmicks to keep our interest in the long arias. Instead they gave us musical brilliance, dramatic truth and credibility.

They were well supported by conductor Gary Cooper and his hard working small band. With just four violins and two violas the ensemble was on the small side for this type of music, but they responded well to Cooper's confident direction from the harpsichord and gave a lithe, incisive account of the score.

William Towers in the title role of Handel's 'Orlando' at Sadler's Wells. Photo © 2006 Robbie Jack
William Towers in the title role of Handel's 'Orlando' at Sadler's Wells. Photo © 2006 Robbie Jack

The company gave only three performances of this entrancing evening, but will be back again in May 2007 with another new production.

Copyright © 15 November 2006 Robert Hugill, London UK

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