Vivaldi’s 1734 Olympic tragicomedy will get a brand new staging 300 years after its composition, carried out by Peter Whelan, directed by Daisy Evans, and co-produced between Irish Nationwide Opera, the Royal Opera, and Nouvel Opéra Fribourg, the place it transfers after its London run. In some ways, it’s a stunning night, although the work itself is gradual to disclose its secrets and techniques.

The topic was widespread within the 18th century, although Pietro Metastasio’s libretto now feels unduly advanced. Its place to begin is King Clistene’s resolution to supply the hand of his daughter Aristea to the Olympiad’s total victor. Licida, who loves her however is garbage at sport, asks his athletic good friend Megacle, whose life he as soon as saved, to imagine his identification and compete in his place, catastrophically unaware that Aristea and Megacle are secretly lovers. From right here, the plot followers out to embrace a number of deceptions, skeletons in royal closets, deserted kids, incest, obsessive exes, and so forth, as twists pile up in exhausting profusion.

Swathes of not very attention-grabbing recitative pull us by the quite protracted dramatic exposition. However roughly a 3rd of the best way by, Licida sings the aria Mentre Dormi as he gazes on the sleeping Megacle and muses on his love for each his good friend and Aristea, and the whole lot adjustments. Out of the blue we realise we’re coping with a exceptional musical psychologist and listening to one of the crucial transcendentally lovely issues ever written.

Seán Boylan (Alcandro), Sarah Richmond (Argene), Gemma Ní Bhriain (Megacle), Chuma Sijeqa (Clistene), Rachel Redmond (Aminta), Meili Li (Licida) and Alexandra Urquiola (Aristea), in Irish Nationwide Opera’s L’Olimpiade. {Photograph}: Ros Kavanagh

Evans’s manufacturing is intelligent and strikingly efficient. The set resembles a classical amphitheatre, although it’s quickly obvious that the video games performed right here embody an important deal greater than sport. The whole forged stays on stage all through, wearing comparable smocks and breeches, solely scrambling into full costume after they assume their characters: in a world through which nobody in the end is both who they appear, or who they imagine themselves to be, identification, individuality and even gender, are solely depending on what individuals put on.

There’s some excellent singing. Countertenor Meili Li makes an excellent Licida. His is an excellent voice, heat in tone, and evenly produced – Mentre Dormi actually is the breathtaking second it needs to be. As Megacle, Gemma Ní Bhriain was indisposed on opening evening, strolling the function on stage whereas Maria Schellenberg sang from the pit with steely authority. Alexandra Urquiola’s intense, passionate Aristea contrasts sharply with the dignified restraint of Sarah Richmond as Licida’s put-upon ex Argene. Chuma Sijeqa admirably captures the vulnerability beneath Clistene’s bravado. Seán Boylan is all unctuous appeal as his servile sidekick Alcandro, whereas Rachel Redmond provides us some dazzling coloratura as Licida’s tutor Aminta, the voice of cause in a chaotic world. The superb Irish Baroque Orchestra play splendidly for Whelan, who conducts with nice magnificence and elan.

L’Olimpiade is at Linbury theatre, ROH, London, till 25 Might


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