City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Handel’s Opera Orlando, EFT, Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 07 March 2011

Orlando - web 1.jpg
Show Details
Scottish Opera
George Frideric Handel’s Opera Orlando
Tim Mead (Orlando), Sally Silver (Angelica), Andrew Radley (Medoro), Claire Booth (Dorinda), Andreas Wolf (Zoroastro), Harry Fehr (Director), Paul Goodwin (Conductor).
Running time: 

It was good to enjoy an opera that is seldom performed. Indeed on the night I came across only one other person who had experienced Orlando before, and that was over twenty years ago. Handel was not a success with his many operas and kept himself afloat only because King George had granted him an annuity. Eventually he discovered success with cantatas.

But meanwhile Orlando, written in 1732, has survived. The story not surprisingly is love torn and this production was set in a sanatorium a year into the Second World War and the aftermath of the defeat at Dunkirk. It was sung in English with heroes from mythology.

Orlando was the troubled war hero and perhaps surprisingly a counter-tenor with the very talented Tim Mead enjoying his Scottish Opera debut. His troubles were carefully monitored by a team of doctors and nurses but despite all we saw his human frailty unravel - performed with such sensitivity, even when crouched on a sick bed.

Sally Silver as Angelica and Andrew Radley as Medoro in a lovers duet was memorable whilst Claire Booth as Dorinda the nurse gave just a delicious glimpse of humour.

Yannis Thavoris’ entirely sensible and utilitarian 1930‘s set was rotated at one time to be a row of beds in a ward and another the reception area. A doctors and nurses case meeting with a screen and projector did seem to go wrong and was quietly abandoned.

Handel’s baroque music with a small orchestra under the specialist baton of Paul Goodwin kept a bouncy pace, and certainly much to my joy.

After the overture what was happening on stage seemed so slow and for a moment or two I wondered if I would see the performance out. Nowadays there is a myriad of television hospital soaps that gallup along and we have become used to having to keep up with the story line. Fortunately Orlando gathered pace and interest and with two intervals proved a very satisfactory entertainment indeed.

Event: Thursday 3 March 2011 and Saturday 5 March 2011