Sunday, 6 March 2016

Utterly mesmerizing (English Concert/Orlando)

Handel, Orlando (English Concert d. Harry Bicket, Birmingham Town Hall)
The prospect of Iestyn Davies and the English Concert was an enticing one. High expectations were met and exceeded by a stunning cast and a beautiful rendering of the score, with one breath-taking aria after another, each of improbable beauty; some stunning duets too. So fine was all this, that it was hard to trace the drama but you didn’t need to: the music rather than the words communicated it. We were in that rare realm which begins where the words and music finish, and only opera can reach.  There were no weak voices. There may not have been the chances to really show off the apparently endless range and purity of which Iestyn Davies is capable. As seen in the summer in Saul, and to be revived shortly; this time he went mad. Erin Morley demonstrated some very fine coloratura. Kyle Ketelsen was a pleasant surprise, bass baritone in the best sense of including depth and light. This was an essentially a pure concert performance, but the singers did about as much acting as could be expected in this context. Dorinda (Carolyn Sampson) was every bit broken-hearted and I wondered at one point in Act II if she would be obliged to provide an encore (if only). The English Concert made authentic, well-paced sound which suited the Town Hall and gave the extremely talented quintet the space they needed to make the kind of Handel of which one dreams.
Overall: thrilling
The English Concert
Harry Bicket (director)
Iestyn Davies – Orlando
Erin Morley – Angelica
Carolyn Sampson – Dorinda
Sasha Cooke – Medoro
Kyle Ketelsen – Zoroastro

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