Opera review: A night of pursued, discarded and true love on an island of illusions

Published March 10 2015, The Copenhagen Post

As the lady seated in front of me had no concept of subtlety in terms of perfume, I was dazed into a state of borderline delirium for most of the night.

Irrespective of my wavering consciousness, Händel’s opera 'Alcina' still managed to utterly captivate and impress at Det Kongelige Teater.

Do your research
For anyone new to the scene, I should point out that Händel’s opera really ‘hits the ground running‘, as audiences of his time were familiar with the plot.

Although Fransisco Negrin does a good job at conveying the story, I would recommend fitting in a quick Wiki-visit to read up on it before going to the opera in order to really appreciate the richness of the performance.

Too many lovers can spoil the broth
Fredrik From and the Concerto Copenhagen performed flawlessly as the magic on stage unfolded, telling the story of the sorceress Alcina who lures men onto her island and makes them fall in love with her, only to transform them into plants, rocks, and animals once she tires of them. 

Her latest lover to have fallen under her spell is the brave Saracen knight Ruggiero, whom Alcina, we discover, has truly fallen in love with. The romance will lead to her demise as Ruggiero’s fiancée Bradamante comes to his rescue. 

The good, the talented, and the kitschy
Louis Desire’s set design balanced on a fine line between art and kitsch throughout the play and at one point tipped in favour of the latter as the eminent caged lion was depicted by a caged flat screen showing alternating pictures of a lion fading into each other.

But that's just my personal taste and complaining about the stage design’s few shortcomings seems a tad petty in light of the compelling playing and singing.

Special credit must be given to Nicole Heaston in the role of Alcina and Itziar Lesaka as Ruggiero, who stepped in for absence due to sickness. 

Heaston, especially, delivered an incredible performance. She was the only performer to really delve into the depths of her character’s and the opera’s psychological complexities.

I have a fever and the only prescription is more dancers
I simply must high-five Alcina when it comes to her taste in men.

The male dancers representing her discarded lovers transformed into animals were a pleasure to watch as they showcased their acrobatic agility and talent to Ran Arthur Braun's captivating choreography. 

It shouldn't be missed
Overall the production's shortcomings and failure to fully explore the psychological depths and intricacies of Händel’s opera are compensated for by the rest – mainly by Heaston’s exceptional and alluring performance, ranging from towering rage to aching grief as she experiences the bittersweet taste of love, while at all times in command of every note. 

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