St George’s, Hanover Square, 24 March 2018



27 March 2018

The cast was also ideally responsive to vocal demands. Countertenor Michal Czerniawski was impressively consistent and even through the coloratura called for in the (originally castrato) part of the hero, Amadigi, who has to contend with the attempts of the jealous sorceress Melissa, to thwart his love for Oriana. She is only too pleased to cast her spells, not only at the convenient bidding of Dardano – Amadigi’s rival for Oriana’s affections – but on account of her own whims, since she is besotted with Amadigi herself. Erica Eloff combined both the imperious, hysterical impulses of Melissa with a more human aspect to a role that anticipates the eponymous figure of Handel’s later and greatest ‘magic’ opera, Alcina. The depth of feeling Eloff invested in ‘Ah spietato’ raised that aria to the level of the latter opera’s more renowned ‘Ah! Mio cor’, whilst her more vengeful, enraged outpourings elsewhere were equally arresting.



Maria Ostroukhova’s Dardano was technically accomplished, but there was room for more contrast and direct projection of the character’s music, even taking account of the fact that it encompasses the lowest vocal register within the opera, as her singing sometimes seemed more generalised. But in taking on the role of the apparition of Dardano’s ghost, and also Oriana’s father Orgando, she sounded more appropriately and artfully disembodied. Ilona Revolskaya completed the quartet of singers as a golden-toned Oriana, pure and unaffected at times, but at others expressing more fire and passion as necessary, acting as the more dignified foil to Melissa’s histrionics. All credit to Duarte and his ensemble, then, for their enthusiastic advocacy of a rewarding Handel opera.

Curtis Rogers