Guest article by Joe Schmoe, Senior Cultural Critic at The Arts Bucket
Love, fidelity, ridiculous misunderstandings based on poorly understood glimpses of something dressed up to look like something else- Scottish Opera’s new production of Handel’s Ariodante has it all.
Imagine a world in which an absurd arrangement between opera houses, newspapers and a relentlessly content-devouring public gives me, Joe Schmoe, the platform to assess this opera on an artistic level. Because why not? I was there, and you probably weren’t.
So it is with this delicious production of Ariodante, which I admit was definitely not what I was expecting. The show begins with an entire royal court getting excited about a wedding between Princess Ginevera and a male soldier by the name of Ariodante, who was played by a woman for some reason. (What will they think of next!?) It was actually very easy for me to tell that everyone was excited about the wedding, because all the characters broke out into song.
This to me was a bold directorial choice; it is impossible to resist the conclusion that the director felt that mere words (Italian words!? We are in the UK, but never mind) would not carry the sufficient levels of joy and wonder to the audience, so he had them express their jubilation through the mystery of song instead.
I was happy to go along with this choice, if only because it then dawned on my why there had been some sort of high-school band playing some music earlier in the evening. (They actually delayed the start of the show for like five minutes.) At the time I was rather peeved but of course it must have been planned- the director put them there because he knew he would need music to feature in a later scene.
And feature it did! In fact, much to my bemused delight, this band was not only utilised in the wedding scene, but in the following argument scene too, and then also every other subsequent scene throughout the entire show. Talk about a bold choice.
Is it really possible to sustain a whole evening of theatre with characters singing instead of just acting like normal? It was certainly an impressive feat, and I for one applaud the boldness of their vision. It was unlike anything I have ever seen, that’s for sure. Five stars!
I would like to thank my skilled team of managers, editors, and fact-checkers for their help with this article. It is work like theirs which separates the real journalists, those working at established newspapers and magazines, from all the unedited, misguided, and unknowledgeable bloggers out there. Thanks team!