[In case you’d wish to do something classy with blindfolds this weekend (and you did not think I would pass up on the chance to take it to the floor again, did you?): Maite Beaumont as Ruggiero in Handel’s “Alcina” as staged by Pierre Audi at La Monnaie/Drottningholm, Brussels 2015.]
While the “Alcina” did not work as well for me as the “Tamerlano” did, staging-wise (or it may simply be that I am still under the spell of Catherine Naglestad and do not intend to recover, ever), it did have some interesting moments – Bradamante and Morgana, and Ruggiero being aparently ready to renounce Bradamante if she wanted to be with Morgana?
It is all very choreographed, with lots of flourishes, which gives it more of a court entertainment feel, and less one of love and passion, or sex on the beach. Nothing wrong with either of them, but if you’d stick me on an island with Alcina, I’d be voting for #3 before bothering to ask whether I can even vote. (That may be a Naglestand thing, too)
Also, there is some wonderful singing. Sandrina Piau is a Baroque female Borg Queen with that same odd combination of cold and warmth that Susannah Thompson brought to the role. There was Daniel Behle as Oronte, which may not be the sexiest of parts, but I will never protest Daniel Behle in my line-up! Both Sabina Puértolas (Morgana) and, even more so, Angélique Noldus (Bradamante) were delightful discoveries. And, of course, there is Maite Beaumont as Ruggiero and even if you watch it for no other reason – and there is no need to watch,even, just listen – check this “Alcina” out because of her. Her voice is such warmth, with such gentleness, such humanity in its conviction, such a jubilant edge of hope, that it makes you feel wrapped in a soft blanket on a cold winter afternoon, next to a fire, with a mug of perfect hot chocolate in hand. And after a while, you notice that you do not even feel the darkness anymore: that’s how much Beaumont’s voice shining.
The production is still available for streaming here.