Alice Coote Handel recital (3 September, Proms 2015)
Thadieu and I had a lot of fun listening (each on our side of the Atlantic) to Coote’s Handel recital (with the English Concert) at the Royal Albert Hall via Radio 3. I don’t know if you can find it on the i-player (I couldn’t) but it would be a shame if it wasn’t stored.
She started with a few teasing bars from Myself I shall adore then broke into a playful Sta nell’Ircana. A rather balanced Scherza, infida and a very slow He was despised were also there, as was the entire Myself I shall adore, with the orchestra sounding particularly buoyant, but I think the star of the night was Dopo notte.
Since it’s my favourite Ariodante aria I’ve heard a good number of renditions, with many making an impact – from fierce (Fagioli) and muscular (VK) to gently joyous (Hallenberg), bubbly (JDD) or quietly resonant (Blythe). Coote’s is closest to Hallenberg’s, more introverted than hers yet luminous – very much in keeping with (how I see) the character. Needless to say, I loved it, as I enjoyed the just right tempo.
There were also several times during the recital when I was reminded why I like the mezzo voice: intimate, warm (of course), soft yet intense. Something that I’ve long thought specific to Coote’s voice is a darkness not so much of timbre as of feeling. She can convey searing hurt just by adding pressure to a syllable.