So I went to watch Bartoli’s Ariodante again. I was there for the première, in June, and now I went to see the last performance of the run, in the summer festival.
The general impression is that it was even better than in June, the singers were clearly more confident, they dared even more in the variations and in the interpretation. The orchestra also sounded more at ease, the whole show had a better flow.
I cannot say that Bartoli was any better than in June, she was already perfect on première night.
Christophe Dumaux as Polinesso did stuff that I never heard anybody do. He was touched by grace on this night, his coloratura was explosive, and his voice never sounded better. I swooned.
Kathryn Lewek, Ginevra, who I had so much praised for both voice and acting, improved on both. Her voice more secure on top, and her acting extremely convincing, with even some bold choices, like a whispering parlato in Mi palpita il cor, which turned out extremely convincing. A singer to follow, definitely!
Sandrine Piau, as well, was a perfect Dalinda, with great acting skill and a furious coloratura.
In the role of Lurcanio, Norman Reinhardt was substituted by none other than Rolando Villazón. Now, Handel is a real challenge for him, and a lot of people had “questions” about this choice of repertoire. I have a soft spot for bold, unapologetic tenors screaming their lungs out, so I may be biased here, but I did enjoy his performance. He was clearly a bit out of his depth, but his interpretation was musically correct (most of the time) and very engaging. He can act. Overall I’m glad of the cast change.
The singer that disappointed me the most in the first run, bass Nathan Berg, became even worse. He is now positively barking on stage, completely out of style. He can tame his (somewhat pleasing) bass voice during the arias, and deliver with some sort of elegance, but the recitativi were awful. “Sparafucile” commented my friend Gianluca, and I cracked up laughing, a perfect description. He is a good actor on stage, I’ll give him that, he is very credible as the grief-stricken father.
So, I am extremely happy that I have seen this production again, I have noticed and understood many details that I had overlooked in the first run, and I got to enjoy it even more. The production is truly spectacular, I can really recommend to buy the DVD, if they produce it (they were filming).
At the end, during the curtain call, the orchestra started playing the last chorus again, and the singers on stage started singing, with the audience standing up and clapping our hands, it was fantastic. There was such joy in the air!