Bavarian State Orchestra conducted by Harry Bicket
ARTHAUS 100 388
David Alden’s production will not be to all tastes but it brings the action strikingly to life and removes any hint of a museum. It also proves yet again what a master of the operatic form Handel is. Added to this Harry Bicket - who is at Glyndebourne this summer for the revival of Theodora - conducts a snappy, fast moving performance well in keeping with the stage pictures.
My only minor problem with the production is the choice of so many counter-tenors among the cast. However, David Daniels is well cast as Rinaldo, proving both heroic and noble, but able to make sense of the many genuinely comic moments. Deborah York is delicious as Almirena and who can deny the aptness of her cheerleader number in Combatti da forte. Noemi Nadelmann is a sensuous Armida using sexuality rather than magic to ensnare her victims.
None of this should imply that the production is simply an excuse for gimmicks. The emotional depth of individual characters is well established and the relationships are clearly notated. The sound balance is excellent and the audience are obvious for their enthusiasm rather than their coughing. With so many wonderful productions of Handel available to us at present we are all very lucky! BH