Review: WNO - Orlando @ WMC
Welsh National Opera
Wednesday 7th October 2015
Madness is the mood in this season with WNO. Critics gushed about I puritani and no doubt Sweeney Todd will be a huge success also.
Here in Handel's opera, Orlando is removed of its past mythical setting and staged in a hospital on the eve of the Blitz. The story is of mistaken declarations, unrequited love and faked deaths. This happens to be a recent production where the setting is near perfect to the opera. It's a clever idea, really.
Handel's music is eternally sublime. There are so many arias and so much recitative, that anyone seeking solos, would not be disappointed. This is a point in opera history where there may not be a chorus on stage, but rather a focus on a small set of characters. The phoney happy endings seen in some of Handel's work may be a tad annoying (Jephtha comes to mind) but the music lifts you to a place of serenity and bliss.
In the title role, Lawrence Zazzo is our dashing, counter tenor, driven mad and childlike from the actions of others (in one scene being electrocuted to "help him"). Rebecca Evans as his ex-partner Angelica was on top singing form as the American socialite soon to be returning home. Medoro, played by a passionate Robin Blaze is a second counter tenor and in some ways stronger than Zazzo (even if they can sound alike).
Fflur Wyn as the down trodden, but radiant nurse Dorinda is sad in her efforts: she never really getting what she wants, her love for Medoro barely recognised. Daniel Grice is a quack doctor in his Zoroastro, methodical in his observations on Orlando and singing his quick-witted baritone.
Nice video work also lingers around the production, with close up footage on the singers and a MacGuffin in the prop ring also twirled in golden merriment. The set remained highly practical, as a revelling piece showcasing different elements of the hospital setting.
A must see on tour.
Rating: 4 stars
Orlando continues on tour with I puritani and Sweeny Todd (to premier tonight in Cardiff).
Image Source: Bill Cooper