Rodelinda review – top-notch cast embrace dark vision of Handel

The first revival of Richard Jones’s fascist-Italy-set production enjoys a strong cast, with Rebecca Evans outstanding as Rodelinda.

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Tim Mead ENO Rodelinda
A wide range of colour … Tim Mead as Bertarido. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

By: George Hall for the Guardian (UK)

Coliseum, London

In its original 1724 form, Handel’s opera dealt with complex political and amorous machinations among a seventh-century ruling Lombard elite. Richard Jones’s 2014 production moves the action to fascist Italy, where the sense of a lawless dictatorship and the constant threat of violence seem equally apposite.

Jeremy Herbert’s split-stage set means that on one side we see Rodelinda – widow of the supposedly dead king Bertarido – imprisoned with her son Flavio in a grungy dungeon, while on the other, the vile Grimoaldo and his even wickeder ally Garibaldo plot their next move in attempting to persuade Rodelinda to marry her consort’s usurper.

Related: ‘Tell me what traditional means’ – director Richard Jones on La Bohème

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Source: Opera News from the UK Guardian