Tickets are now on sale for Glyndebourne's Handel Rinaldo, (read my review here) But at the Baden State Theatre in Karlsruhe, a really special Rinaldo staged with puppets! In Baroque times, puppetry was a respected art form. Baroque marionettes sprang from much older traditions that hark back to medieval street and religious theatre. Wood carving craftmanship, still very significant in many parts of Europe, adapted well to the elaborate Baroque taste for fantasy and extravagance. Kings might experience Baroque spectacles on a grand scale. Through marionette theatres, humbler audiences could enjoy things on a more miniature scale. Puppets aren't real but they're magical, and fun.
This new Rinaldo has been created by Carlo Colla & Figli is a world-renowned Italian puppet company that has been staging performances of classical tales and plays for more than 200 years. Have a look at their website for photos of their productions and also of their workshops. Puppeteer Paiero Corbella told Deutsche Welle about the painstaking craftmanship behind the tradition. "While the secondary characters have only six strings, the main characters in the production have up to 25 strings. That way, explains Corbella, they can carry out complicated movements such as placing their hand on their brow in a tragic gesture or moving their mouths to mimic the singing. Having this range of movement is important in order to capture the historical traditions of Baroque theater, which is based on stylized, emotional gestures".
This Rinaldo is being performed with the Lautten Compagney, whose conductor Wolfgang Katschner says "We are combining historical music with a special kind of historical theater - which results in something very magical and beautiful, The marionettes act out the libretto [the opera text] in a very naive, simple manner to magical effect." Read more here.
Lots more on puppets and their use in opera on this site, follow the label "Puppets and circus" on the right