This is not to suggest that either experience was a chore for him. The moment has passed to write anything about Iph, but I'll state without hesitation that Susan Graham and Placido Domingo can both sing over colds and sound like nothing is wrong. And that there are web sites devoted to the kind of close friendship with large age differential that the Pylade and Oreste of Paul Groves and Placido Domingo shared.
The focus of this weekend was Baroque, with Pocket Opera NY's performances of Alcina on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 17-20, an a concert on Friday, March 18, called "A Baroque Evening". We enjoyed the Sunday performance of Alcina, after having heard the Baroque evening on Friday.
Tanya Roberts. One doesn't need to be an island-owning sorceress to foresee a bright future for both of these stars. (Although I wouldn't mind trying it. Owning an island I mean. Sorcery per se is so tired.)
It's hard to name other standouts in the cast, since they were almost uniformly good and at nearly the same level of technical mastery and commitment to their roles. I was especially fond of the Bradamante of Solange Merdinian. Bradamante's tutor Melisso was well sung by Matthew Royal. Tenor Donald Groves has a voice bigger than what one normally associates with Handel, but managed the technical difficulties and acted the injured Oronte with great commitment. Soprano Claire Kuttler's role of Oberto was too brief. One wanted to hear more of her. Musical direction was by Jorge Parodi.
The original opera is quite long--remember audiences of that time didn't sit in their seats for the entire performance, but rather came and went as they pleased--but director Erwin Maas made some judicious cuts to keep the actual performing time to approximately two hours plus intermission. This reporter, although not an expert in such matters, didn't notice any gaping holes in the narrative created by these cuts. In the opening scenes Mr. Maas made certain we all clearly understood the level of wantonness and debasement those who found themselves on Alcina's island were subjected to under her spell. The dress was current, a way smaller opera companies often avoid costume rental fees, but in truth, period costumes--either from Mr. Handel's time or from the time of the Crusades, when the story's source Orlando Furioso is set--would have gotten in the way of Mr. Maas's direction. Which, on the whole, I got. I got the relationship between clothing and respectability. I got the whole wanton lust bit much more than I really wanted to. I didn't quite understand why everyone held a dagger in every scene. I also didn't quite understand why Alcina's sister Morgana, herself a temptress, was wearing a cardigan. I'm sure someone will post a comment anonymously to enlightlen me.
*Yes, I know Iphigénie was first performed in 1779, too late to be Baroque, but it's before Mozart hit the big time, so it counts. In my mind, at least.