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. ↩
Chez dehggi, 2015 shall go down as the year of smashing opera trips abroad and the full Monteverdi. I’ve also visited new (to me) local venues such as the Roundhouse and Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe. I had a boatload of Baroque and recitals from some of my top favourites but all periods were included. Also I had the chance to catch Operalia in its first stop to London. The one glaring miss this year was Glyndebourne.
L’Orfeo | Roundhouse: very moving performance and surprisingly fitting venue. It’s not for nothing I started the year on a Monteverdi high, I went on to see live his other two great works, in chronological order no less.
Farinelli and the King | Wanamaker Playhouse: a play with music, kinda like an opera but with less music, though the music got the most applause, so… 🙂
L’Ormindo (Cavalli) | Wanamaker Playhouse: not quite Monteverdi but silly as hell
VK Handel Recital | Karlsruhe Handel Fest: when the Baroquemobile shifts into turbo gear
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny | ROH: film noir meets mezzos
Semele | London Handel Festival: if I persist in listening, Sem’le I shall adore
Catone in Utica | London Handel Festival: new gen gets whimsical with pasticcio
St Matthew Passion | Barbican: the Passion of Mr Oboe and the Coughing Squad
Ben Johnson | Wigmore Hall: Mr Oronte sings zany stuff
JDD Masterclass | Milton Court/Barbican: shut up and learn to trill!
Adriano in Siria (JC Bach) | Britten Hall, RCM: a traditional production!
Il turco in Italia | ROH: introducing Aleksandra Kurzak’s chutzpah
Roschmann/Uchida | Wigmore Hall: when very serious and not so serious meet
VK’s Cleopatre | Stadscasino Basel: in which la forza del cleavage defeats dehggi
La forza del destino | Bayersiche Staatsoper: la forza del bad libretto vs. the Temple of Music
Krol Roger | ROH: mesmerising stuff
Sara Mingardo | Wigmore Hall: wrist slashing music done with elegance and… calm
Jessica Pratt | Wigmore Hall: major fun but should come with silencer
La voix humaine/Bluebeard’s Castle | Wiesbaden: women battling demons on a hot, sunny day
Queen of Spades | ENO: the least suspected mezzo tour de force (thanks (I think?!), David Alden)
Don Giovanni | ROH: all hail La Roschmann’s Donna Elvira!
Guillaume Tell | ROH: Gerry Finley acting mighty morose
JPYA Summer Performance | ROH: mixed bag with young singers
Operalia | ROH: high quality contestants
Roberta Invernizzi | Wigmore Hall: finally fearless Invernizzi
Daphne | Grimeborn: unplugged Strauss
La voix humaine/La dame de Monte Carlo | Wigmore Hall: la voix de la merveilleuse dame Antonacci
Adriano in Siria (Pergolesi) | Cadogan Hall: Farnaspe in love
Orphee et Eurydice | ROH: the Monteverdi Choir tames the furies
Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria | Barbican: il triunfale ritorno d’AAC to Barbican
Ariadne auf Naxos | ROH: Mattila does it again
Leo Nucci | Cadogan Hall: old skool Italian
Xerse (Cavalli) | Theater an der Wien: Emmanuelle Haim and Le Concert d’Astrée at work
L’incoronazione di Poppea | Theater an der Wien: Metastasio, tornado of concepts and chatting about opera
Franco Fagioli recital | Wigmore Hall: sweetly done and Dopo notte!
Orontea (Cesti) | Wigmore Hall: shambolic early Baroque
Hard to wish for more excitement after this romp but, as usual, you never know. What I do wish is to hang out again with the fine folks I had such good opera times this year. Half the fun was you 🙂