The Spoleto “Ariodante” (2007) Liveblogging Thread

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Welcome to the White Shirt live comment thread for Handel’s “Ariodante” from Spoleto (2007).

Since, clearly, we haven’t yet outmaxed our “Ariodante” quote for this spring (Haller! DiDonato! Coote!), we’re adding Hallenberg to our liveblog list, in a staging by John Pascoe and with Il Complesso Barocco under Alan Curtis.

Cast List:
Ann Hallenberg (Ariodante)
Laura Cherici (Ginevra)
Marta Vandoni Iorio (Dalinda)
Mary-Ellen Nesi (Polinesso)
Zachary Stains (Lurcanio)
Carlo Lepore (King of Scotland)
Vittorio Prato (Odoardo)

Libretto: Italian (pdf).

400 thoughts on “The Spoleto “Ariodante” (2007) Liveblogging Thread”

    1. yes, was just thinking again how said it is that he is gone already, he did a lot of promoting work for Handel
      His work doesn’t get me like Haim or Minkowski or Rousset (at times), but of course good.

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  1. now that is a collar in which you could stow half the furniture.

    looks like a heavy class approach with Dalinda again?

    And sounds like a smaller venue from the sound capture, and as if done at least partially via room mics?

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      1. Once she appeared, yes. Before I was doubting – or the hall is really small, to get that room feedback?

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  2. [Spoleto (Latin Spoletium) is an ancient city in the Italian province of Perugia in east central Umbria on a foothill of the Apennines. It is 20 km (12 mi) S. of Trevi, 29 km (18 mi) N. of Terni, 63 km (39 mi) SE of Perugia; 212 km (132 mi) SE of Florence; and 126 km (78 mi) N of Rome. [wiki] ]

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    1. yes, a lot more bitchy socialite. And Polinesso the annoying cousin with whom you will still have tea because you cannot kick him out. Nice take – social veneer and the workings underneath?

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  3. there! that’s why i thought she was a contralto! this was my first exposure to hearing her. oh, this is more like the cousin your parents approve and you’re obliged to serve tea to.. and isn’t that aria already cut?

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    1. yes, the color is dark, but not a contralto (you should have heard her Monteverdi, but that’s on BBC replay now 🙂 )
      yes, approved cousin then, more evil underneath, but not outright?

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      1. i heard her live singing Penelope 🙂 , and also thought she was a contralto…

        oh, this first aria, i can hear where she’s changing gear to chest voice, right at that first phrase…

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        1. oh, after Penelope – right, you mentioned that! – the Jacobs one where she does three other parts will be interesting!

          Yes, she has to switch to earlier to integrate the lowest bits – not her richest color range, listen to that final cadenza how much sparkle she gets higher up. Nice.

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      1. well, coperta la frode is in, and I may need to open my capping program.
        Evil Scheming Countryside Mansion Style Cousin. Probably used to be on the Oxbridge rowing team.

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    1. I was just about to type: she does that very subtly. No throwing herself at Polinesso. but that’s another way to say it.

      oh, I think he FINALLY got it.

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      1. We are still waiting for that review!

        Interesting here that the staging puts them a but as two socialites who seem to just get to know each other and still exchange lots lots of courtesies – good set-up for the lack of trust later: I get the impression these two have never been alone for five minutes until now.

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    1. we do need to have a wig with the poleto wig department, though. If you can’t do undercuts, do ponytails! But no wiggity!

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      1. what we keep saying it is unfathomable she doesn’t get cast for staged shows more often, she is very good with transmitting text in voice and acting, and linking it to good timing.

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    1. I would have said the same, but then there was the first shot of Polinesso in the army coat with a sword and a scowl.

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        1. that is not really an argument against him, you know.

          (on a sidenote, I swear I once had a lesbian gym buddy who looked exactly like this Lurcanio)

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    1. “Lala, I’m so in love, let’s totally get married after knowing each other for five minutes”?

      (and Polinesso is so DONE with the birds and the flowers and pulls a little Jago)

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          1. They don’t know they#re allowed to get married until the Kings barges in and tells them, so I guess being the princess of the reign means not flirting with knights that haven’t gotten officially approved?

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          2. with how it is set up here, with lots of having to represent, probably not.

            okay, perhaps Con l’ali isn’t so boring after all. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! (but also here the cut version, why does everyone does the cut version? Hallenberg could do the original for sure!)

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    1. Have you heard of her before?

      Some ping in the upper middle, characteristic tie-in of the ‘o’ – flattens out a bit in the projection there, but nice handle on the coloratura throughout in this one.

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      1. (sorry, i was typing “his” = the King’s . No, i didn’t know of her before.. i only knew there was two sopranos, some male voices, and Hallenberg and Nesi…)

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  4. oh, dog. i had dream last night (this morning) of many dogs and cats (and mice!) dancing on the hill.. and in the far distance i was able to view the countries up north with an animal full of white fur walking on 2 legs…

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    1. I am curious to see how that will work with her, because light coloratura chains is one thing (and Dopo notte will, I predict also be fantastic), but Scherza infida is completely different in tone.

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    1. not bad for that (or that is what Bacall seems to think. nice acting there!)

      Of course, a lot more subtle that Prina’ rocker version, but I like Nesi’s take, too – more suave-measured, with her changes well integrated. I hope I get to hear her more often!

      Also, this seems to be the aria where Polinesso gets handsy no matter the concept.

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          1. thanks for putting things in perspective… i always ask how one can be so stuck on a version.. and then “ahh! yes”..
            (but it’s true, i was not able to digest any other Ariodante for the longest time after VK.. and still have vivid image of Polinesso’s white gloves and goatie in head..)

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          2. I missed the Mingardo gif last night due to reader mode – of course… I still cannot really get into another Orphée after VK.
            I try to be open to new approaches and new singers, but sometimes, even if you appreciate new ones, there is just that one interpretation that you love very monogamously. Personally, I try not to let it overshadow the chances of others, though I also recognize that I struggle with it at times.

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          3. no, i didn’t make the Mingardo’s glove gif!! coz i really dislike gifs playing on my screen… and i had always thought if i were to make a gift it would be that.. but never proceeded.. until ze shirt arrived.

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          4. ze shirt.
            also, I need more coffee and to have a look at our convo in full-screen mode!

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          5. There is a big difference, as I learned now, between getting stuck versus appreciating what one thinks is sublime, after allowing oneself to sample all other possible ones, and after 10+ years. And in 10 more years, i’m sure one’s mind will change further and either one gains more / less appreciation of a certain take.

            Ann Hallenberg’s Ariodante: I knew about it already way back in 2011!.. Then i watched, but i was *so* stuck on the “idea” of trouser role: full of swagger, a certain image of what an appearance in trouser should be like.. , *so* stuck that i could not get past that . At the same time, i was also soooo stuck on what an aria is *supposed* to sound like due to my projection of what a character should be (based on watching/hearing VK on repeat…) That’s how it is in one’s growth i guess.. getting stuck, then somehow have to open up, and realize what is meant as an effort, as an honest portrayal..

            My personal (hearing) growth would not get far if it was not for the (not so happy) disappearance of VK from the stage.. , but even before that, of the year she missed Romeo in 2011 and i was “forced” to hear someone else.. I always thought (for myself) the best solution to unstick is to hear live.. luckily by the 2nd performance (the first is FULL of sticking) i get the idea quickly of the package as a whole without needing to “compare”.

            Further growth definitely came from our liveblogging, esp. for interpretation of stagings and the “meaning” of efforts, hearing views and analyses from you and others to supplement’s my (sometimes rather limited) view..

            Lastly.. there are artists like MP and her Alcina, jeah. that, it will simply works with absolutely no need to get stuck. I was really impressed by that. It’s quite rewarding at a performance to experience such a feeling. I’d say hearing A. Hallenberg and S.Prina live were quite eye/ear-opening.

            (oops, this is now an essay! and i was editing section 3!)

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          6. youa re so right about “learning to hear”, and staying open-minded, even if there is one you love the most in some cases, but it is also a ase of being fair to other singers, and to not limit your own scope of experiences you could have if you opened yourself up for them… but it really is a continuous process.

            VK retiring form baroque trouser repertory (without making it about how she would now be too old to sing young MEN) is a good point because I think many people stick to “their” first influential artists in way that later leads to entitled rejection of all others. But aesthetics changes, interpretations change, we change… and there is so much beauty with a chance to be made and heard.

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          7. For me, “getting stuck” is usually a temporary thing, which needs some time to open up again after a very impressive performance. And, if it wasn’t for the Carnegy hall broadcast, I also wouldn’t have wanted to hear yesterday’s version in order not to “overwrite” impressions. So, yesterday, I admit being stuck on the Bicket Ariodante was quite hindering in appreciating singers’ approaches (maybe also had to do with most of them not being at the same level, but I think I would still have enjoyed it at a different time). Hallenberg was the big exception here, just wonderful! And if I would have to compare the recent Ariodante’s of JDD, Coote and Hallenberg I couldn’t even say which one I liked most, each was impressive in their own way.
            But maybe there are also just some versions, with which you click so much, you will never completely recover.

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          8. Those three Ariodanti were so different, and each one of them thought out well – I don’t I could rank them, or would want to. I was a bit blocked last night by Bicket’s take as well. But Spoleto is a much smaller scale, with a much smaller budget, and a decade has passed since then, and it would be unfair to compare without taking that into consideration.

            In some people, I miss the awareness that what clicks with them is not only the show, but also their individual disposition as an audience.

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          9. Absolutely, and sometimes you can’t change how you feel things, but you can be aware of your influences and, when you write a public review you should be aware of them. But it’s a balancing act, because after all, art perception is subjective by nature. And I am also wondering about how much our perception of art, particularly singing, is influenced by quite trivial things, like “type”.

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          10. no no s mingardo was polinesso kasarova was ariodante. the one in bucharest a hallenberg was ariodante and .. the Armenian contralto who was also polinesso in toronto last year was the villian.. i cant spell her name yet on the bus. she was our general in your fav rinaldo

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      1. and the way she moved back and forth between “this is too much” and being drawn in. And very nice slide down the wall in the end.

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    1. which is a plus in many cases, here, too.

      The mood is a bit Noir meets Christie: lots of characters, and everyone is smitten with someone and then plays the one that loves them but that they don’t love back, like Dalinda smoking while Lurcanio cried his heart out (after not understanding the concept of NO)

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        1. I actually meant vocally, making sure everything was nicely fitting together, which I think requires very good attention to partner’s way of singing, but yes, she was adapting well in everyting

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          1. yes, that seems to be the way to go to make him likable: less entitlement (actually, a good thing to make anyone more likable)

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    1. and the faces of both of them here are GREAT!
      Polinesso all sly eye-roll, And Ariodante all huffing and puffing in righeous furor.

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      1. interesting, after the whole Stuttgart take was “he is of lower class, rose quickly through the ranks and has self-esteem issues around the upper crust” (also, wrestling)

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  5. I like Ariodante better when he’s angry-I mean, he was cute and all in the firts act and I love the coloratura, I just have this unfortunate thing for villains…

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    1. Hallenberg is a irst-act Ariodante, with the giddiness and the lightness and the joy, while Coote is more a second-act Ariodante, with the darkness and the rage and the power…?

      Villains: I think Agathe is leading the support group?

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          1. and now the coloratura at the beginning of the A reprise – waaaah.
            Having this despair aria with such a light color reminds me of “Che farò” in its C major heartbreak brightness.

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    1. not that Hallenberg wouldn’t go all out! Listen to the finish of the first A part – she really breaks out of line in her singing for a groan or a sob, but she does here.

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      1. yes!
        Polinesso checking his watch instead of Polinesso thinking “I’ll have to kill her, but that sure doesn’t mind I can’t sleep with her first.”

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      1. yes, I was about to type the same: This one is really the lowest of his arias, and it is audible it’s a bit too low for her to be comfort zone, but I like the way she deals with it. No pressure, choosing well where to go for shorter phrase/different color instead of forcing something.

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      1. i think part of it is also because where the aria sits in range.. (at some point in later years i’d like to also shove in S. Mingardo’s version of Polinesso 🙂 )

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    1. yes, not like the English Concert take, where Polinesso was clearly of the “Why refuse what is on offer?” mindset.

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  6. I only learned recently that Polinesso was written for a female singer, but still he is sometimes cast with CTs 😦 (I’ll make an exception for Dumaux)

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    1. He wrote quite a few of his villains for female singers – usually not the lead, but often the “second guy”

      (Ah yes, Dumaux. Come to Vienna in Feb!)

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    1. gets revenge for his brother, not really for himself, but he is lashing out and doesn’t care when it falls?

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    1. because it would have to be a huge secret, with her being the princess? (and Ariodante really isn’t the brightest crayon in the box)

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  7. I would have thought that even in a patriarchy, the father and fiance would like to know who has made her “spolied goods”.

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      1. Yes, I thought that if they wanted to kill the Princess for unchastity, they would want to kill her lover, too. If Ariodante had mentioned Polinesso in his suicide note, it might have made things more difficult for Polinesso and he couldn’t have so smoothly presented himself as Ginevra’s champion. He was unwittingly helping Polinesso by not mentioning his name, and that’s what bugs me… but I guess he was too heartbroken to care for revenge.

        (and I don’t even know why I am still here overthinking and searching for logic in opera plots in the middle of night 🙂 )

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        1. but this opera brings that out more clearly. I always thought it’s the male mentality (in general) that they don’t really blame each other was much as blame the women, this boy-band thing. and if it’s their “best pal” then they even blame the women (even their own fianceé) for seducing the guy.. I’d say the Aix staging was really helping me seeing this (although i admit before I was always watching/listening without the libretto so not really knowing.. and always thought Ariodante a handsome courageous knight who came to the rescue..)

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          1. He is, or at least he is presented as such (which is the actual problem of a patriarchal environment), despite abysmal communication skills.

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          2. My problem is that I can’t help comparing Ariodante to Much Ado about Nothing… 😀 In the play they are at least trying to help the slandered lady and even carrying out some kind of investigation…. but of course these works are very different and it’s much more serious when the honour of a princess is at stake.

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    1. I thought the same!
      No, just her dreams (the cut to put it to 2 1/2 hours, but not THAT much) – well, the bit of Polinesso dragging away Dalinda who wanted to defend her (this Dalinda is definitely over Polinesso) was real, and then it was her mindspace, with Polinesso killing Lurcanio and being crowned King?

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        1. Good Neghittosi here! Yes, oevrall good take by Dalinda, also in the smaller acting bits (her background breakdown when she pieced two and two together over Ginevra’s foreground fit!)

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      1. That cutting style is so annoying. And even if you are unfamiliar with Baroque and da capo arias you might still notice there is something wrong with those arias. (that has happened to me)

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    1. I would remember THAT.
      With Nesi, I get the impression that Polinesso actually means what he says here, while Prina was mocking the whole attitude.

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      1. Such a beautiful and moving farewell aria. It’s like he doesn’t even believe himself she is “impudica”. 😦

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    1. such different approaches – the way Karg does line is not easily available to everyone, so that is a completely different starting point. Karg is more “do it with much smaller moves”.

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        1. Azema
          (yes, poor Dalinda. Mauled by one, then by the other – though what would be interesting would be a take of Dalinda being someone who simply can’t be alone and always needs someone to mirror/value her, no matter whom.).

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    1. the male celebration must preceed. here ‘m copying Dehggi’s libretto over, in case you missed it somehow?

      Ariodante: do you still love me after all I put you through by believing you were a slut?
      Ginevra: I adore you! Please take my heart! If I had more I’d give them all to you!
      Ariodante: omg, me too! Let’s move in together and give each other many hearts!
      Ginevra: let’s!
      Ariodante: let’s!
      Ginevra and Ariodante: let’s move in together and exchange hearts! Let’s! Let’s!

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      1. Does it have something to do with opera seria style? Every time something happens, it has to be commented with an aria.

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          1. I think that Ariodante singing Dopo notte alone suggested that the aria is not in “real time”, it just describes his thoughts at the moment he hears Ginevra is innocent, he’s not really stopping to celebrate (although that would be in line with the opera’s treatment of women).

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          2. that is a good reading, also fits with Ginevra’s earlier “mad scene”, I like it!

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      2. but here, Ginevra freaked out (perhaps overdoing it a bit, but I liked the impulse) at seeing him and can’t just push things away at the snap of fingers.

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      1. at the moment, they are still struggling. Good.
        And hey, at least Ginevra gets the coat. Daddy gets the better deal, he can walk off with the dog.

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    1. so he’s running of, and she ditches the coat and follows, and he turns back, so she might convince him to elope…?

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      1. oh right, i’m coming! but i need to study the music. with her, and with MP , (and actually with singers i like) i need to know the music by heart first! can’t be distracted!

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    1. you shoudl sign up on her fb official page. She just finished that gorgeious “Agrippina” run… and she was “Vagaus” last Jan when i heard her, a floor-me wau.

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    2. she’s singing at the PROM! Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust, one of my faaaav works! fingers crossed for, if not a vid then, a radio broadcast.
      “Ann Hallenberg (the official page)
      April 20 ·
      The BBC published their 2017 Proms Season today, and I’m thrilled to announce my debut there with an absolute dream-role of mine: Marguerite in LA DAMNATION DE FAUST by Berlioz! Aug. 8th at the Royal Albert Hall London under Sir John Eliot Gardiner! “

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          1. (and good morning to you. yes, more A.Hallenberg will be good in our lives. she will also be on the radio, from Halle, this coming sunday. )

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          2. but i just saw, she has this “Tamerlano” with Delphine Galou? may be we can make it into our liveblog in the future? i remember watching it once but not knowing anything except a superb duet..
            on the other hand.. i think i’ll go for her Arsace now as music at (mid) night.

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          3. Oh, which radio station? I hope it’s on replay since I’m completely occupied on Sunday. Maybe they also cover SP’s concert? Btw. would it be possible to do live blog on Friday this week? (because of JDD plans on Saturday)

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          4. Thank you! I’m going to hear Il Pomo d’Oro with JDD tomorrow, so they apparently have a tight concert schedule. I very much like their style on JDD’s album, so looking forward to hearing them live. I’ll check if MRD has replay, because we have guests on Sunday, but most stations have it I think.

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      1. …otherwise I probably couldn’t have slept for worries about the troubled boy. This production has really quite changed dynamics in the sense that he was a victim as well (which worked because he was displayed so very young, not yet able to react differently).

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      1. then have good day on your side (how are the ice cream figures coming along?)!
        I’m also off to bed – good night/morning!

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  8. Well, I don’t know what to say… That was quite “uncomfortable”, not that I’m too upset or anything, but… this story is just so sad from a modern point of view.

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    1. Yes, it is. Even in the 1516 Ariosto, there is more railing against the “Scottish Practice” of taking any rumor for fact and then having the deities judge in deciding a duel. (And yet most of 19th century repertory is even worse, with les agency for the women. But Ginevra is a steep step into that direction already)

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  9. hihi, i’m spamming your box here, just accidentally stumbled on my own “guide” to listening to Händel… when i first discovered Ariodante back in 2013…

    – a guide to Händel:
    a) sort out the mezzos+contraltos on 1 side, sopranos on opposite, and leave 1 bin for the male characters
    b) fast forward to the end to see which one is paired with which
    c) back to beginning to listen to music, with occasional glances to find out which contralto/mezzo had killed which tenor/bass…
    d) occasionally pay attention to partially comprehensible libretto/subtitles (if available)
    e) pay particular attention during ballet dancing session if the puppet show is involved, lots of interaction.
    f) take it slow, 1 Act at a time, for several rounds/days
    g) finally put everything together!

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    1. That sounds like a sensible approach. 🙂 I saw Ariodante on tv as a teenager when I was more familiar with Verdi and Puccini and Mozart, and I was traumatised for years because I found the “concept” super boring, string of 10-minute arias with little recit action between them. And almost no ensembles! It was the ENO production with Ann Murray. I was amazed by her singing because I had thought Queen of Night was the most difficult role ever.

      I only became interested in Ariodante this year because of that hot screencap with Prina and Piau… So thank you for that, Anik. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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