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At Glyndebourne, Valour’s no need of years

This article is a translation of the French one ( The writer is French and English is not her native language so please, be indulgent towards any mistakes. Thank you.

First of Handel’s opera created in London in 1711, Rinaldo received a very warm reception thanks to the staging which dazzled the audience at the time with complicated machineries and even a flock of birds during Almirena’s aria « Augelletti, che cantate »… The Glyndebourne Festival puts back on stage the Robert Carsen’s production created there in 2011 with a new cast of young singers simply dazzling. By their talent, their youth, they have made of this revival a splendid moment and THE inevitable lyric show of the summer.

 © Robbie Jack

All the artists sang with an extreme delicacy : Giulia Semenzato was an irresistible Almirena, she was adorable in the aria « Augelletti, che cantate » and deeply moving in the « hit » of the opera « Lascia ch’io pianga ». The soprano has charmed the audience by the beautiful colours of her voice and her legato. The other good surprise of the evening was Brandon Cedel‘s Argante : the basse – baritone has a warm and powerful voice working wonders in his very hard first aria « Sibilar gli angui d’Aletto » but the singer has also sung with a big softness like in the superb aria « Vieni, o cara ».

 © Robbie Jack

At only 28 years, the Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński made his debuts at the prestigious Glyndebourne Festival singing the title role. Initially scheduled as Eustazio, he replaced at short notice the mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong. This replacement has insufflated a wind of freshness and of youth to this well known production. Jakub Józef Orliński, by his spontaneity and theatrical ease ( he is also a dancer and we can really see it) has made totally credible the character wanted by Carsen. Jakub Józef Orliński has in him this youthfulness, physically and vocally. We are impressed by his art of nuances, his sonorous low medium, his ability to alternate between celestial piani and an impressive virtuosity, the homogeneity of his voice at all the registers and his perfect diction. The countertenor has the art of captivating the audience by a perfect mix of stageworthiness and temperance : he has what Castiglione named the sprezzatura, an italian word untranslatable which nominates a form of ease, of graceful nonchalance. His Rinaldo charms by the delicacy and the serenity of his singing, in particular in the aria « Cara sposa ».

 © Robbie Jack

Kristina Mkhitaryan was an incredibly sensual Armida with her singing full of colours. Radiating of beauty, she seems at the top of her art. Her impressive virtuosity, her vocal power have made the arias « Furie terribili » and « Vo’far guerra » one of the tops of the performance. But her voice can also be very soft, in particular in the aria « Ah ! Crudel ! » : the singer has the talent of a tragic actress which works wonders in the baroque repertoire, we can’t wait to hear her first Alcina at the Opera de Nancy and at the Opera de Dijon.

 © Robbie Jack

Tim Mead brings so much depth to the character of Goffredo. He has a voice of countertenor absolutely unique, at the same time sensual and celestial, with his beautiful velvet timbre wich hugs us with softness. Everything in him is just perfect : his bright high – notes, his virtuosity, his impressive dramatic engagement. His singing is royally elegant, very suave and peaceful : it calms down our soul. To hear him singing reminds us why we go to the Opera : to be in contact with the Beauty and the sacred, to give a sense to our existence. Tim Mead is one of the very few people touched by Grace : he permits us to reach the Sublime.

© Andy Staples

Who else can sing Handel with this perfection today ? His divine voice seems to be born to interpret the great Handel roles : his Bertarido at the Opera de Lille was the most beautiful interpretation heard during the 18/19 season. Tim Mead interprets Handel with a delicacy and a sensibility which we can’t find in the singing of an other singer. Furthermore, he has a very beautiful physical presence : Tim Mead looks like a knight painted by John William Waterhouse.

 © Robbie Jack

The young conductor Maxim Emelyanychev conducted The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He is a real prodigy, he brings an incredible energy to the performance, the tempo is impetous, ardent, underlining all the contrasts of the score. The result is simply stunning.

 © Robbie Jack

We will not linger over Robert Carsen’s well known staging. Created in 2011 at Glyndebourne, it was shot to make a DVD. The action, in this production, is set in a British schoolroom and Rinaldo, a bullied schoolboy, imagines himself as a Christian knight waring against the Saracens during the first Crusade. All the opera is a daydream of Rinaldo and so Arminda becomes a black latex dressed headmistress ; the chargers of the knights, bikes ; the magician, a crazy chemistry teacher and the final battle, a game of soccer. The staging creates some funy moments, thanks to the theatrical ease of the singers.

Performance of August 20th

Next performances : on August 23th and 25th (

Le coup de cœur du Philtre (our favourite album ) : the album Purcell – songs & dances

This album is a pure wonder, a real treasure. Tim Mead sings in it with an unreal suavity, in particular in the superb « O Solitude, my sweetest choice » which takes us in an other world. A jewel of melancholia and of pure beauty.

Romane Blondeau

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