Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Rare Opportunity: The Passion Of Handel LIVE!

Friday night I had the pleasure of attending the opening performance of University Opera's production of "Ariodante" by George Frideric Handel.

My only experience with a Handel opera to that point were pieces here an there (most recently in Fresco's "Paranormal Playhouse") and the recording of "Alcina" featuring Renee Fleming and Susan Graham. So Ariodante was my first experience attending a full fledged live Handel Opera.

The set was simple but perfect. Given the limited space of the Rennebohm Auditorium, the hanging portraits set against the woodsy backdrop gave the illusion that the actors were either inside or outdoors without having to move many props. And the portraits were gorgeous.

But onto more important business, which is the singing. I never realized how challenging Handel is for the singer. And this youthful cast sparkled. I particularly loved Lindsay Metzger and Anna Whiteway as Ariodante and Ginevra respectively. They were the lead roles so it seems obvious that I would gravitate towards them, but I truly felt their voices were sublime and a perfect match for this gorgeous music.

The UW Chamber Orchestra, conducted by James Smith was tight and spot on. Handel is intricate music, and the players performed in marvelous fashion.

Full disclosure here: Director William Farlow recently became an advisor to Fresco. So within the past few months, we have become fast friends.

Bill is in his last year at UW, and what impresses me the most about his style is his obvious passion for the music. I know it may sound weird, but I have met too many performers and directors in my life who didn't seem to like music that much. It was more of a job for them. Music is not a job for Bill - it is a part of his being, and this is one of the reasons I am grateful for his involvement with our organization and friendship.

Bill's passion for this music and production certainly comes through on the stage. University Opera's production of Ariodante is filled with love of the music, and that starts with the director.

Ariodante is not an opera that is performed often. I would highly recommend to all you early music fans, people who are curious about Handel, and those who are passionate about music to attend one of the final performances at Music Hall directed by William Farlow. There are two more performances, today (10/27) at 3:00 pm and Tuesday (10/29) at 7:30 pm. This is an opportunity not to be missed.

Jeff Turk

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