Metropolitan Opera Radio and Live in HD Broadcast: Rodelinda
Transmission of Saturday, December 3, 12:30 P.M.
In the library of the castle, Rodelinda confronts the usurper Grimoaldo (John Relyea as Garibaldo, Kobie van Rensburg as Grimoaldo, Renée Fleming as Rodelinda, Zachary Vail Elkind as Flavio, Christophe Dumaux as Unulfo)
© Beth Bergman 2011
The 2011–12 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored by
Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®,
with generous long-term support from
The Annenberg Foundation and
the Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media,
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.
Music by George Frideric Handel
Libretto by Nicola Francesca Haym
Adapted from Antonio Salvi's libretto,
after Pierre Corneille's play Pertharite, Roi des Lombards
THE CAST (in order of vocal appearance)
Rodelinda soprano, RENÉE FLEMING
Grimoaldo tenor, JOSEPH KAISER
Garibaldo bass, SHENYANG
Eduige mezzo, STEPHANIE BLYTHE
Bertarido countertenor, ANDREAS SCHOLL
Unulfo countertenor, IESTYN DAVIES
Conducted by HARRY BICKET
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Production: Stephen Wadsworth
Set designer: Thomas Lynch
Costume designer: Martin Pakledinaz
Lighting designer: Peter Kaczorowski
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
Musical preparation: Donna Racik,
Dan Saunders, J. David Jackson,
Assistant stage directors: Gina Lapinski,
Continuo (harpsichord): Harry Bicket
Continuo (cello): David Heiss
Harpsichord ripieno: Bradley Brookshire
Prompter: Donna Racik
Italian coach: Hemdi Kfir
Production a gift of John Van Meter
Additional funding from
Mercedes and Sid Bass, and
the Hermione Foundation
THE SCENES Timings (ET)
ACT I 12:30–1:39
Sc. 1 A room in the royal palace, Milan
Sc. 2 At Bertarido's memorial
ACT II 2:09–3:09
Sc. 1 The palace library
Sc. 2 Outside the stables
ACT III 3:39–4:35
Sc. 1 At Bertarido's memorial
Sc. 2 A prison cell
Sc. 3 At Bertarido's memorial
Sc. 4 The palace library
Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel,
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,
Directed for Live Cinema by Matthew Diamond
HD host: Deborah Voigt
For more information on the broadcasts,
Send quiz questions to:
Metropolitan Opera Quiz
30 Lincoln Center
New York, NY 10023
This performance is also being broadcast
live on Metropolitan Opera Radio
on SiriusXM channel 74.
ACT I. In the Royal Palace, Rodelinda, wife of King Bertarido, presumed dead in an invasion by the usurper Grimoaldo, laments the loss of her husband and kingdom. Grimoaldo arrives to seek her hand, accompanied by his henchman Garibaldo and Bertarido's sister, Eduige, but the proud queen declares that the man who has robbed her of all she held dear will never buy her love. When she leaves, Grimoaldo complains that his peace is disturbed equally by Rodelinda's scorn and by the anger of Eduige, to whom he is betrothed. She reminds him of his vow and proposes that they reign as regents until Bertarido's son, Flavio, comes of age, but Grimoaldo responds that as she once spurned him, he now spurns her. When he departs, Eduige turns her wiles on Garibaldo, offering herself to him if he will oblige Grimoaldo to kneel before her. Alone, Garibaldo muses that he will use the art of love to win the throne.
In fact, Bertarido is alive; disguised as a Hun, he has given out word of his own death to buy time to win back his kingdom. At the stables, he ponders the vain pomp of his newly erected memorial, longing for his beloved wife. He is discovered by Unulfo, his loyal advisor, who counsels prudence when Rodelinda and Flavio approach. Bertarido and Unulfo withdraw behind the memorial, as Rodelinda weeps for her husband's fate. The treacherous Garibaldo brings an ultimatum from Grimoaldo: if Rodelinda will marry the usurper, her son will reign; if she refuses, the boy must die. Rodelinda, defeated, dispatches Garibaldo to report her acquiescence. Vowing to see his treachery punished by death, she storms out, leaving Bertarido dismayed at her betrayal. Unulfo urges him to take heart, and Bertarido determines that Rodelinda will rue her inconstancy.
At the castle stables, Bertarido is separated from Rodelinda (van Rensburg, Blythe, Fleming, Dumaux, Scholl, Relyea)
© Johan Elbers 2011
ACT II. Garibaldo reveals Grimoaldo's marriage plans to the envious Eduige and reiterates his pledge to uphold her right to the throne but demands that she wed him in return. When he departs, Eduige greets Rodelinda, wondering at the sorrow of one who has both throne and husband within her reach. Raging at Grimoaldo, Eduige vows to avenge them both. No sooner has she left than Grimoaldo enters, with Garibaldo and Unulfo. Rodelinda exacts a price for her capitulation: she will marry Grimoaldo only if he first kills her son with his own hand before her eyes. Grimoaldo recoils, but Rodelinda reiterates that she can never be mother to the rightful king and embrace the usurper. When she exits with Flavio, Unulfo urges the despairing Grimoaldo to follow his nobler instincts and abandon his suit, but Garibaldo counsels him to call Rodelinda's bluff. Grimoaldo, consumed with passion, says he would rather remain a prisoner of his heart than conquer his obsession. Upbraided by Unulfo for his evil counsel, Garibaldo repeats that he who wins a kingdom through tyranny can keep it only through cruelty. Left alone, Unulfo resolves to reassure Bertarido of his wife's fidelity.
Bertarido, bemoaning his betrayal, is discovered near the stables by Eduige. Unulfo brings word that Rodelinda remains true, and Eduige pledges to help the elated Bertarido rescue his wife and son, calling on hope to sustain her. They withdraw as Unulfo goes to apprise Rodelinda of Bertarido's return. Entering with Unulfo, she pours out her relief. Bertarido, stepping forward, begs forgiveness for his unfounded suspicions before embracing her. They are interrupted by Grimoaldo, who, failing to recognize his enemy, rails against Rodelinda's hypocrisy in taking a lover even as she proclaims her fidelity. To save her honor, Bertarido reveals his identity, but Rodelinda, ready to sacrifice her virtuous reputation for his life, refutes his claim. Grimoaldo, saying his rival will die regardless of his identity, leaves the lovers to a last embrace.
Rodelinda and Bertarido (Fleming, Andreas Scholl)
© Beth Bergman 2011
ACT III. In the palace, Eduige and Unulfo plan Bertarido's escape from prison. Unulfo, full of hope, departs to put the plan into practice, as Eduige wonders whether this righteous act can efface her past misdeeds. Garibaldo counsels Grimoaldo to put Bertarido to death and departs. The usurper, torn between lust for power and dreams of glory, is racked by jealousy, love and fear.
The imprisoned Bertarido, lamenting the cruelty of fate, finds a sword in his cell. When Unulfo enters, Bertarido, taking him for the executioner, stabs his friend, but the wounded Unulfo manages to lead the remorseful monarch to a secret escape route. Eduige guides Rodelinda and Flavio into the empty cell, where the recent bloodstains from Unulfo's wound lead Rodelinda to fear the worst.
At the foot of Bertarido's memorial, Grimoaldo, plagued by remorse, vainly seeks solace in sleep. Garibaldo, finding him vulnerable, takes the king's sword and is about to strike, but Bertarido arrives, followed by Rodelinda, and drives the assassin away.
Having dispatched Garibaldo, Bertarido confronts Grimoaldo in the library, returning his sword and scornfully daring the astonished tyrant to wreak vengeance on his rescuer. Unulfo and Eduige enter, confessing their part in Bertarido's escape, but Grimoaldo has had a change of heart. Offering himself to Eduige as husband, he relinquishes the throne to Bertarido. Rodelinda rejoices in her restored fortunes. Bertarido joins her in bidding farewell to their sorrows, and all hail a brighter future.
Eduige and Grimoaldo (Stephanie Blythe, van Rensburg)
© Beth Bergman 2011
George Frideric Handel was born in Halle on February 23, 1685. He spent several formative years in Italy, principally in the service of Prince Ruspoli in Rome, before being appointed music director to the Elector of Hanover, who later became George I of England.
Rodelinda was a product of the composer's London years with the Royal Academy of Music at the King's Theatre. It had its first performance there, on February 13, 1725. The cast was led by some of London's brightest stars. The first Rodelinda was Francesca Cuzzoni (1696–1778), the Parma-born virtuosa who had created Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare the previous year. Short and unattractive, Cuzzoni was celebrated for the beauty of her voice and the finish of her singing, as well as for her stubbornness: Handel once threatened to throw Cuzzoni out of a window during a rehearsal for his Ottone. To create the role of Bertarido, Handel chose the castrato Senesino (1686–1758), a singer of majestic height and manner who was the primo uomo of the King's Theatre company. Rodelinda essentially disappeared from the repertory until 1920, when the opera had its first modern revival, in Göttingen, produced by scholar and art historian Oskar Hagen, the father of actress and teacher Uta Hagen.
The opera entered the repertory of the Metropolitan Opera in its current production, by Stephen Wadsworth, on December 2, 2004. The Met's premiere cast, conducted by Harry Bicket, featured Renée Fleming (Rodelinda), Stephanie Blythe (Eduige), David Daniels (Bertarido), Bejun Mehta (Unulfo), Kobie van Rensburg (Grimoaldo) and John Relyea (Garibaldo).
Renée Fleming as Rodelinda, the
queen of Lombardy, in Stephen
Wadsworth's Met production of
© Beth Bergman 2011
WHAT TO READ AND HEAR
Winton Dean's Handel's Operas 1704– 1726 (Oxford) is an exhaustive study of the composer's stage works; less comprehensive, but also of interest (and easier to find), is Dean's The New Grove Handel (New Grove paperback). Paul Henry Lang's George Frideric Handel (Dover) is a useful, sympathetic biography.
Alan Curtis leads a compelling performance of Rodelinda for DG Archiv, although the set's female principals outshine their male colleagues. Sophie Daneman is an exemplary Rodelinda on Nicholas Kraemer's compellingly straightforward recording (Virgin Veritas). The early-career bravura of Joan Sutherland and Janet Baker, caught in an English-language Rodelinda in 1959, is available on several CD labels specializing in live performances, as is an aircheck of a 1973 Amsterdam Rodelinda broadcast starring Sutherland and Huguette Tourangeau. Renée Fleming (Decca) and Andreas Scholl (Decca and Harmonia Mundi) have both included individual Rodelinda arias on recital discs. On DVD, Scholl is Bertarido and Anna Caterina Antonacci takes the title role in Jean-Marie Villégier's Glyndebourne production, led by William Christie (Kultur); Ivor Bolton paces Dorothea Röschmann's Rodelinda in Bayerische Staatsoper's staging (Farao).
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