English National Opera set design for Rodelinda by Jeremy Herbert
Since Nicholas Hytner demonstrated so vividly the viability of Handel as an opera composer for our day, with his groundbreaking production of Xerxes at the Coliseum 32 years ago, ENO has come up again and again with superb productions of these great works. So it was extremely welcome to have the opportunity to see Richard Jones' 2014 production of Rodelinda again on Thursday. And a super revival it is too. There were inevitably some cast changes. Iestyn Davies had been a glorious Bertarido when the production was new. But really Tim Mead yielded to him in no way at all, providing singing of the utmost distinction - and stealing the show. Well done Tim - our Orlando in Chicago in 2009 and subsequently grown into being one of the finest counter tenors of our day. And there was another excellent counter tenor in young Christopher Lowrey making a large role out of Unulfo. To think that all those years ago it was Alfred Deller or nothing!
Rebecca Evans and Susan Bickley returned as Rodelinda and Eduige - excellent both of course. Our dear old friend Neal Davies came in for the original Richard Burkhard as Garibaldo, and Juan Sancho took over Grimoaldo very strongly from John Mark Ainsley who had been superb when the production was new.
Presiding over all this was Christian Curnyn, eliciting the most stylish playing from the ENO orchestra. How excellent it is to hear how orchestras can adapt these days to the "historically informed" approach of the Christian Curnyns of our world. This was a long evening of pleasure.
Tim Mead (Bertarido) in the English National Opera's Rodelinda