<<< << -- 5 -- Robert Hugill WORTH DISCOVERING
As Irene's father, Nicandro, Philip Tebb sang well but could not quite disguise the fact that Handel's arias for the characters verge on note spinning. It was unfortunate for Vojtech Safarik that Handel seemed to have little interest in the Deus ex Machina. Safarik coped manfully with the swathes of runs that Handel gives the character, but could not hide the fact that the aria runs out of steam well before the end. Of course, it did not help that he had to deliver it in front of the chorus, gleefully overacting, as the various TV crew and production assistants.
The London Handel Orchestra was ably conducted by Laurence Cummings, though Handel's brilliant trumpet part in the overture seemed to give the trumpeter some cause for thought and the horns, in the hunting chorus which opens Act 2, were distinctly taxed. But these were small blots on an otherwise poised musical landscape.
Designer Bridget Kimak created a simple but effective design which, with minimal dressing, did fine duty for all the various locations. It is a tribute to her and Cowell's skills that scenes moved into each other seamlessly, without a break, exactly as they should in this music. Kimak seems to have had a great deal of fun sourcing the various outfits for the individual characters in the chorus, the results greatly added to the visual fun of the evening and helped the singers project their characters.
Susannah Hurrell, Stephanie Lewis and Tyler Clarke. Photo © 2008 Chris Christodoulou
It was the sheer musicality and enthusiasm of the cast which made this evening enjoyable. Despite my doubts about the hyperactivity of Cowell's production, the combination of a superb group of soloists with the lively and enthusiastic chorus meant that the end result was well worth discovering. Unfortunately there are only three planned performances of the production.
Copyright © 26 April 2008
Robert Hugill, London UK
THE LONDON HANDEL FESTIVAL