Opera Scotland

Rodelinda 2013Scottish Opera

Read more about the opera Rodelinda

Scottish Opera is at last giving Handel's great works their due. Orlando has been produced twice and the staging of Semele was memorable too. In the early years of the Handel revival it was recognised that a cluster of three successive works, Rodelinda, Giulio Cesare and Tamerlano, were rather special.  Even with greater knowledge of his other works, this is still the case, and so it is pleasing that Scottish Opera tackled Rodelinda for the first time.

The instrumental accompaniment on this tour consisted of harpsichord, violin and cello. This neat little continuo group that would usually just accompany recitative, at these performances also provided an atmospheric accompaniment for the voices to project off during arias. Susannah Wapshott, familiar as the pianist in earlier touring shows, directed from the keyboard, with string players Gabi Maas and Andrew Drummond Huggan.

It is a fairly safe assumption that most of the sixteen communities on the itinerary will have been seeing a Handel opera for the first time, and it is twenty years since Scottish Opera last toured a baroque piece (Gluck's Orfeo) round the Highlands and Islands. At the outset it has to be stated that this Rodelinda was a rather heavily pruned text. Handel produced a three-act work of some three hours duration, excluding intervals. This production lost one of the intervals and around a third of the music, with the performance ending soon after ten. However, the cuts of whole arias and chunks of recitative were generally tactfully made. The light accompaniment allowed every word of the translation to be heard, so the plot developments were made clear. Arias were not butchered in the manner fashionable thirty years ago, and some of the decorations applied to da capos were quite beautifully stylish.

In general, the singing was excellent, led by Sarah Power and Andrew Radley. The musical highlights of the performance were probably his opening aria (familiar to earlier generations as 'Art thou troubled'), along with the dungeon duet and Rodelinda's heartbroken reaction to finding bloodstains. But the singing of the others was just as good, and audience reaction was consistently enthusiastic, at least on 22 October.

The length and formality of Handel works present challenges to modern audiences and temptations to directors. Some details of the production may be criticised, most of all the frequent attempts by the director to lighten the tone. Unulfo, the heroic 'faithful servant' was mostly played for laughs, and there were sequences, such as Eduige's outline of the escape plan, when amusement was positively encouraged. 

The design, based on a model theatre, seemed awkward and unhelpful at first, but it could be adjusted easily, and provided plenty of scope for the necessary eavesdropping and lurking. Costumes were broadly modern-ish.

In all, as with that interesting Gluck Orfeo of twenty years ago, this showed that the company has plenty of scope for taking baroque pieces round the country. Lots of superb, technically challenging music, and wonderful drama, And no dancing, and no chorus to be edited out.

Performance Cast

Rodelinda wife of Bertarido

Sarah Power

Bertarido deposed King of Lombardy

Andrew Radley

Grimoaldo Duke of Benevento, usurper of Bertarido's throne

Richard Rowe

Garibaldo Duke of Turin, a friend of Grimoaldo

Andrew McTaggart

Eduige sister of Bertarido, engaged to Garibaldo

Sioned Gwen Davies

Unulfo a young nobleman, adviser to Grimoaldo but secretly a friend of Bertarido

Reno Troilus

Performance DatesRodelinda 2013

Map List

Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock | Greenock

26 Sep, 19.30

Nevis Centre | Fort William

1 Oct, 19.30

Macphail Theatre | Ullapool

3 Oct, 19.30

An Lanntair | Stornoway, Lewis

5 Oct, 19.30

Wick High School | Wick, Caithness

8 Oct, 19.30

One Touch Theatre, Eden Court | Inverness

10 Oct, 19.30

Haddo House Hall | Ellon, Aberdeenshire

12 Oct, 19.30

MacRobert Arts Centre | Stirling

15 Oct, 19.30

Easterbrook Hall | Dumfries

17 Oct, 19.30

Victoria Halls, Helensburgh | Helensburgh

19 Oct, 19.30

Gardyne Theatre | Dundee

22 Oct, 19.30

Deeside Theatre | Aboyne, Aberdeenshire

24 Oct, 19.30

Community Centre, Nairn | Nairn

26 Oct, 19.30

Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline | Dunfermline

29 Oct, 19.30

Tait Hall | Kelso

31 Oct, 19.30

Brunton Theatre | Musselburgh, East Lothian

2 Nov, 19.30

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