Thursday, 25 August 2011

Staging Handel Rinaldo

Tonight, Prom 55 Handel Rinaldo from Glyndebourne. For background, please read this review of the Glyndebourne production this July HERE  Please also see my Prom 55 preview with more clips HERE.. Here is a clip from a different production from Teatro alla Scala, Milan, 2005. Note how the director, Pier Luigi Pizzi, has combined modern abstraction with over-the-top excess, in the true spirit of baroque. Handel's audiences knew very well that what they were watching was theatre, not fake reality. Glorious costumes, but stylized in the 18th century's idea of the Crusades, which even then audiences would have realized bore no relation to the early Middle Ages. Baroque audience weren't bothered in the least about veracity - they thought in terms of Classical Rome and Arcadian idylls. What's delightful about Pizzi's staging is that he goes along with the fantasy but shows the stage mechanics behind them. In the ocean-crossing scene, the sea is depicted simply by waving a blue cloth across the stage while a ship is dragged along by pulleys. The ship glides very slowly, no storms! But Handel's music is written in a non-naturalistic style and needs time to unfold, so the fit between music and visuals is perfect. Witty and ironic, too.

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