Written July 27, 2016
Between the ENDLESS repeats, the idiotic gimmicks -- with loads of stupid anachronisms (WWII warships and BLIMPS!) -- and "countertenor overload," Peter Gelb's latest excursion into opera "updating" produced one of the most tiresome afternoons that I've experienced in a long time. Natalie Dessay, who, according to published reports and interviews, dotes on this sort of fluff, must be at least as much to blame for this load of nonsense as director David McVicar. Judging from her vocal lapses yesterday, Dessay is in the twilight of her career. She needs to perform a punishing role like this one like she needs to gargle with gravel! (Instead, I always will remember her fondly for her role in "Fille du Regiment" rather than in this Caesarian turkey.) Neither will I run to see the unexciting David Daniels again anytime soon. Pardon them, Maestro Händel, for they know not what they do!
Written September 25, 2016
This performance was delightful--very creative, with a wonderful taste of humor. Natalie Dessay was wonderful at both singing and dancing, and the rest of the performers were great! It was a bit long, and probably would have been better with a little tightening, as a lot of the arias repeat themselves often! But the staging, direction, costumes and acting were
clever and engaging!
Would highly recommend!
Written July 25, 2016
This delicious piece set in colonial times and sung in Italian shows off the best of Handel. McVicar has adapted this opera as metaphor for the best and worst of a conquering hero while not taking the whole venture too seriously. All of the principal singers were fabulous in displaying superb flourishes and embellishments that are Handel's trademark. The three counter tenors delivered excellent acting as well as singing skills. Natalie Dessay was romantic and playful while very skillful in her mastery of the score. Bickett as conductor clearly revels in this composer's work It was an all encompassing delight.
Unfortunately I was sitting near several people who simply could not "handle" the counter tenor voices. While it might take a bit of open mindedness to get used to and thoroughly enjoy this effect their talking over the singing was very rude. They shut up when I confronted them.
Written June 30, 2016
This Opera is not exactly an introduction to the art. One really needs to appreciate the finer point of nuances in endlessly repeated phrases to appreciate this unnecessarily long epic work of Handel. The director surely could have edited out some repeats here and there.
Having said that the artistry of Natalie Dessay and cast was wonderful. Very expressive and at times intensely emotional.
Written May 24, 2017
Natalie Dessay is the Lucille Ball or Imogene Coca of opera. She can make the driest story incredibly enjoyable, and she certainly does that in this opera. Between her perspective and that of Director David McVicar, this was much more fun than we expected it to be. The countertenors were also a breath of fresh air. The music is beautiful - and, being Handel, reminiscent of both the Messiah and the Water Music. Altogether, a great way to spend the afternoon.