Claus Guth's exciting 2017 staging of Handel’s Rodelinda at Madrid’s Teatro Real, featuring Lucy Crowe and Bejun Mehta as Rodelinda and Bertarido, with conductor Ivor Bolton.
After the successes of Giulio Cesare in 1723 and Tamerlano in 1724, Rodelinda completes the trilogy of Handel’s great opera seria masterpieces. The work was composed in 1725 using Nicola Francesco Haym’s libretto, a work inspired by Antonio Salvi’s earlier libretto which had been itself adapted from Pierre Corneille’s tragedy Pertharite, roi des Lombards. Rodelinda thus brought one of the most glorious compositional periods in the Handel’s career to a close, about a decade after his arrival in the British capital. Mixing romantic storytelling and political intrigue, Handel produced one of his most beautiful scores, a true operatic tour de force.
Lombardy, 7th century. Bertarido, the king, has fallen. His conqueror, Grimoaldo, claims the hand of Bertarido’s beloved Rodelinda. But Rodelinda rejects the usurper with contempt, particularly because he is already engaged to the late king’s sister, Eduige. Infuriated by Grimoaldo’s infidelity, Eduige allies herself with Garibaldo, to whom she promises her hand and the throne. While Eduige prepares her revenge against her former fiancé, Rodelinda escapes to the forest with her son to mourn her dead husband. Garibaldo interrupts her to announce that Grimoaldo plans to execute her son if she refuses to marry him. Desperate, Rodelinda gives in, promising to kill the messenger. But Bertarido is not dead and, hidden, witnesses the entire scene…
Photo: © Monika Rittershaus