George Frideric Handel
A model of virtuosity and versatility, soprano Elza van den Heever further expands her Met repertoire, adding the noble heroine of Handel’s grand Baroque drama Rodelinda. Harry Bicket, a champion of the composer’s operas, takes the podium to conduct the Met’s moving production (presented this season with a shortened running time), which also stars mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, countertenors Iestyn Davies and Anthony Roth Costanzo, tenor Paul Appleby, and bass-baritone Adam Plachetka.
Production a gift of John Van Meter
Additional funding from Mercedes and Sid Bass, and the Hermione Foundation
Languages sung in Rodelinda
Title languages displayed for Rodelinda
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Timeline for the show, Rodelinda
Estimated Run Time
World premiere: King’s Theatre, London, 1725
One of Handel’s most successful operas in its day and one of his most highly regarded in recent times, Rodelinda is an involving, taut, and remarkably modern drama. Much of its power lies in the appeal of its protagonist, a realistic portrait of a woman rather than an allegorical type, and every character is driven by dramatically credible motivations and the human emotions that accompany them, all masterfully captured in Handel’s music, by turns subtle and bold.
George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) was born in Germany, trained extensively in the music capitals of Italy, and spent most of his brilliant career in London. While his great choral and orchestral works—most notably Messiah and the Music for the Royal Fireworks—have remained extraordinarily popular for, his operatic creations only found renewed appreciation in the mid-20th century. Nicola Francesco Haym (1678–1729) was a librettist as well as a theater manager, cellist, and composer in his own right, He wrote the libretti for several of Handel’s greatest operas, including Tamerlano and Giulio Cesare.
George Frideric Handel
The story takes place in and around Milan, the capital of the northern Italian kingdom of Lombardy. Stephen Wadsworth’s Met production moves the action from its original early-medieval setting in the seventh century to Handel’s own time.
The orchestra for Rodelinda, as for Baroque opera in general, is quite small by today’s standards—a total of 40 instrumentalists, including recorders, theorbo (a specific kind of bass lute), and harpsichord. Handel creates remarkable effects with this ensemble, both independently and as accompaniment for the singers. According to the dramatic conventions of 18th-century opera seria, action and plot development are found in the harpsichord-accompanied recitatives, while virtuosic solo arias are the primary mode of emotional expression.