diffey

Above: the cast of Ariodante at De Nationale Opera at curtain call on January 23, 2016.

I feel remiss that I haven’t written much on Tumblr yet about my Amsterdam adventure seeing Ariodante twice. I set myself a deadline of the last show in the run to put something up about it, and here we are—the last show is on right now! I’m taking the extraordinary measure of posting to Tumblr from work, which I almost never do. (I’m on my lunch break, boss! *munches salad*)

My notes at this point will be completely useless for convincing anyone else to go see Ariodante at the DNO but I have to tell you that it was a great show. 

When I saw this same production in Aix, I walked away intellectualizing over Richard Jones’s interpretation of the story. This time around, especially the first time I saw the show (on Wednesday, January 20), I was emotionally affected. The cast seemed to have achieved a certain cohesion and the staging, with Ariodante and Ginevra imagined as a couple of infatuated teenagers in a Scottish fishing village, started making emotional sense to me. 

At the end of the first act, as Ariodante and Ginevra celebrated their imminent marriage, I was buoyant, gleeful, outgoing; at the interval, I hopped on social media to share my joy. At the end of the second act, when Polinesso had ruined the lives of several innocent people, I found myself with painful tension in my shoulders and a touch of nausea in my stomach. I wandered through the crowds in the lobby and wondered how people could be smiling and chatting over drinks; I felt awful. I returned to my seat and spent some time soothing myself with the mental refrain, “It’s only a story. It’s only a story.” How long has it been since I have had to tell myself that?! Sarah Connolly and Anett Fritsch were so darling together as the innocent lovers, and so devastating in the grief inflicted on them in the second act; Sandrine Piau as Dalinda was so convincingly tormented by her conflicting feelings; and Sonia Prina as Polinesso was simultaneously so wicked and yet so slyly engaging of the audience, that I had a hard time achieving any detachment from the drama in front of me.

By the end of the third act, Handel’s celebratory music had brought me back into a better mood although a piece of my heart hurt for Ariodante and Ginevra as their mutual love and trust—in the Jones staging—lay irreparably damaged. At curtain call I was simply overjoyed on behalf of the cast, who got a well-earned and noisy ovation for their marvelous work.

If you haven’t yet done so, I highly recommend listening to the complete radio broadcast of DNO Ariodante from Saturday, January 23. It is available on the NPO Radio 4 website for three months. You miss the visuals, but it’s a knockout cast of singers. Excellent stuff.