Within the first decade of the eighteenth century, George Frederic Handel was already ‘wow-ing’ the London crowd with Italian opera seria. His famous Rinaldo was all the rage but by 1735, another performance took the stage achieving the utmost success.
Love, honour, and deception run back and forth throughout Ariodante with libretto based on the work by Antonio Salvi. The story revolved around the King of Scotland’s daughter, Ginevra, betrothed to Prince Ariodante. Polinesso, the Duke of Albany, is also madly in love with Ginevra who has convinced her father that she has been unfaithful to her betrothed. Of course, love conquers all in the opera world, and both Ginevra and Ariodante, fight their way back to one another defeating those who tried oh so hard to selfishly keep them apart.
On October 16th, the Canadian Opera Company will perform its first ever Toronto production of Ariodante featuring, as always, a stellar cast, including Canadian soprano Ambur Braid. Playing the role of Ginevra’s truest friend and confidant, Dalinda, we had the opportunity to ask the B.C. native, on returning to her first home, the COC, along with her preparations for another exciting opera season.
MC: How would you explain Dalinda’s character?
AB: In this Richard Jones production of Ariodante, Dalinda is the maid, a passion-driven, yet tortured soul who just can’t quite attain what she thinks she deserves. There’s a lot of internal conflict and a fair amount of abuse, as she falls for the wrong man and ruins her life and the lives of the people around her. It’s a rough show for poor Dalinda.
MC: Many would say that “psychology is a fact of Handel’s work”. How do you interpret this when preparing for this role in particular or others that you have played by the composer?
AB: Psychology is a big part of opera in general. The plots are interesting because they tell the stories of humans in extreme situations. However, for Handel, one needs to dig a bit more into the psychology than you might for, say, Puccini as it’s not always transparent and one needs to find the motivation for all of those da capo arias. This makes Handel an intensely emotional experience and it is great when a director has a clear vision and concept. Personally, I always love the third act in Handel operas, when everyone is losing their mind and going completely bonkers. It’s fabulous music.
A scene from Ariodante (Festival d’Aix en Provence, 2014), photo: Pascal Victor/ArtComArt
MC: You were quite busy this summer performing at various festivals – what do you love most about the beginning of a new opera season?
AB: This season is particularly delightful for me as it’s my return to my home company, the Canadian Opera Company. That means that I get to see the people that I love and sleep in my own bed.
For more information on upcoming performance please visit coc.ca