One of the most fun things at London Handel Festival is to attend recitals by the local young singers on the rise. You might remember I was very impressed by Averina’s performance as Dalinda in last year’s RCM production of Ariodante. Others agreed and she came second in London Handel Festival’s 2016 singing competition. On Wednesday we had the opportunity to hear her sing the tunes I imagine she likes best. As you can see below, they tend to be playful, always a bonus for me.
Galina Averina soprano
Claudia Norz violin
Oliver John Ruthven harpsichord
? I’m sorry, I didn’t catch the cellist’s name as she had stepped in for the original one
Un cenno leggiadretto Serse
Restino imbalsamate La Calisto
Neghittosi, or voi che fate? Ariodante
Zerfliesse, mein Herze St John Passion
Piangero la sorte mia Giulio Cesare
Averina is vocally very accomplished, with a clear, easy coloratura and a pleasant, even tone across the range and from the getgo, good interaction with the instruments around her, as thadieu and I noticed last year in Ariodante. Her posture is very good and, though lively, knows how to contain her moves. She also looks like you’d imagine a character who has arias like Un cenno leggiadretto or Tornami a vagheggiar. Her characterisations were spot on, culminating with getting playful with her compact mirror on Myself I shall adore. It’s a long aria to marvel at one’s own gorgeousness but I think she loves herself all right 😉
Perhaps because the playful arias work so well for her, I was quite taken with the wistfulness she pulled for Zerfliesse… .
The violin sonata came off nicely, especially the Allegro part, where I really enjoyed the bassline.
Sonata in D major for violin HWV 371
Myself I shall adore Semele
Amour, lance tes traites! Platée
Tornami a vagheggiar Alcina
One glance at the setlist and something jumps right at you: we don’t often get French Baroque in London. It’s fun when it happens, especially if it’s one of Folie’s arias. You probably all remember Mireille Delunsch acting French-mad in that music sheet dress. If you don’t, check it out pronto. Averina did a lively job of it herself. I was reminded of an advice Marilyn Horne gave an English-language based singer presenting a German aria: pronounce it much stronger than you think necessary. Likewise, if it’s madness and it’s French you can fire all cylinders and it might not be nutty enough 😉 But she’s on the right track.
You know any setlist that includes Tornami… is guaranteed to make me book a ticket. I was amused that in her presentation of each aria Averina said of Piangero… (along the lines of) “this is the character every Baroque soprano wants to sing” but in regards to Tornami… “this is Handel’s most fun aria”. And it certainly is, for soprano. Even Myself I shall adore isn’t quite on that level of giddiness. It was as fun and playful as a closer could ever get.
Earnest moment of the month: have you noticed the curious thread that links most of these characters?
Atalanta: futile but cheerful scheming,
Calisto: her lesbian tendencies cruelly exploited (poor Calisto!) – also, what the hell is this thing about being turned into a bear? I mean, a bear?! Couldn’t she have been turned into a cat or a doe (something Diana loves)? Celestial Cat, the Big Cat and the Small Cat, Cat licking its Paw, Cat napping (any cluster or stars looks like a fat cat napping) – even her name can be tweaked to include cat 😉
Dalinda: duped and physically/sexually abused (we’re beyond poor here),
Semele: duped and burned to death (don’t hate me because I’m beautiful!!!),
Morgana: duped and… it’s not clear what happens to her other than she gets back with her ex. But, yea, in that context poor Platée, who’s only duped and humiliated in front of everybody who’s anybody is having it easy. So I think we need someone to get a Platée together in London.
But at least these unfairly treated women have some great arias/potentially show stealing moments in their respective operas.
In less earnest news, the dry, sunny weather continues in London. I took a few more pictures of that touristy area1, so you can have visual reminders every time there’s a writeup about Wiggy/St George’s Hanover Sq.
- After a long and tiring day at work, I took Wednesday off and went sightseeing in the city I’ve called home for the past 10 years; I tells ya, it’s never too late to get acquainted with the less visited rooms in your house. ↩