GREAT PERFORMANCES AT THE MET: Rodelinda
Airs Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. on KPBS TV
Renée Fleming reprises one of her most popular interpretations: the title role in Handel’s "Rodelinda," under the baton of Baroque specialist Harry Bicket in the revival of Stephen Wadsworth’s acclaimed production, on THIRTEEN’s Great Performances at the Met.
Andreas Scholl also stars as the exiled king Bertarido and Stephanie Blythe as his sister Eduige. English countertenor Iestyn Davies makes his Met debut as Bertarido’s faithful friend Unulfo, and, in Met role debuts, Joseph Kaiser sings the usurper Grimoaldo and Shenyang the corrupt royal advisor Garibaldo.
Handel’s opera, based on the life of a seventh-century queen of Lombardy, premiered at the Met in 2004 with Fleming in the title role. The opera, in which Rodelinda’s love for her exiled husband remains steadfast despite the romantic and political machinations of his enemies, is a showcase for some of Handel’s most extraordinary arias and duets.
Bicket made his Met debut leading the new production premiere of "Rodelinda" in 2004, and has since conducted Met revivals of Handel’s "Giulio Cesare" and Mozart’s "La Clemenza di Tito." He is also the director of The English Concert, a Baroque orchestra that uses period instruments and tours throughout the United Kingdom and the United States.
Wadsworth, whose staging of the opera has been praised for its clarity and fluidity, has also directed new productions of Mussorgsky’s "Boris Godunov" and Gluck’s "Iphigénie en Tauride" at the Met, as well as a new staging of Smetana’s "The Bartered Bride," co-produced with The Juilliard School.
Rodelinda is the sole Baroque heroine in Fleming’s extensive Met repertory of twenty-one roles. Her recent Met performances include the Countess in the first-ever Met revival of Strauss’s "Capriccio;" the title character in the Met premiere of Rossini’s "Armida;" the Marschallin in Strauss’s "Der Rosenkavalier;" and the title characters in Massenet’s "Thaïs" and Dvořák’s "Rusalka."
Blythe, like Fleming, starred in "Rodelinda’s" Met premiere and a subsequent revival in the 2005-06 season. Scholl made his Met debut as Bertarido in the 2006 revival of "Rodelinda," and also starred in a high-profile 1998 Glyndebourne production of the opera, conducted by William Christie.
Davies is a prominent performer in recital and opera in his native England, specializing in the Baroque repertory. Kaiser co-starred with Fleming last season as Flamand in Strauss’s "Capriccio." Shenyang has appeared at the Met as Colline in Puccini’s "La Bohème" and Masetto in Mozart’s "Don Giovanni."