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Orlando

3
WNO touring Handel's classic opera.
By Robert Iles

WNO Orlando. Photo by Richard Campbell.I love a bit of Handel, and I can always watch and listen to the WNO Orchestra, who I greatly admire, plus the singing was fabulous ... but frankly the evening left me cold. Quite a few people around me failed to return after the first interval so I suspect I was not alone in this view.

But why? What happened that sucked the life out of an otherwise glorious evening? Sorry to say it was, for me at least, the staging in a 1940's hospital which didn't make any sense and which left the performers floundering for things to do during the arias. I also felt that without the overlap of the world of magic we are forced to assess the actual bones of a story that really doesn't bear close examination!

In this production, Orlando is an RAF Group Captain suffering from, well, by the looks of it Advanced Douglas Bader Syndrome, Zoroastro is a Doctor and Medoro another patient and Dorinda a nurse. The set, complete with rear projection, spent half its time rotating to two, essentially identical sides ith different furniture. Really? Why? I am not averse to updating things and, as a member of the RAF Theatrical Association recently was involved in a Macbeth with RAF uniforms set a little way in the future ... but there has to be reason .. you have to add more to the show than you are taking away ....

I'd have prefered to have heard the opera in concert, still, if I kept my eyes closed ....


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