Monday, November 21, 2005
I ordered this video from House of Opera because it promised “lots of nude men all the time.” Well, maybe not all the time. It also promised Renée Fleming singing in Handel’s Alcina at the Paris opera, with Susan Graham as Ruggiero and Natalie Dessay as Morgana.
After all the fuss over Pamela Rosenberg’s production of Alcina in San Francisco, I wanted to see what honest to god Eurotrash looked like, and I must say they do produce a much purer product. This is much trashier. Pamela had Alcina changing her outfit for every scene, and that was about it.
The premise is that Alcina has seduced a long list of men and then enchanted each one, turning them into rocks and trees. In this production they stand, or lie or wander zombie-like around the stage in various stages of undress, from fully clothed to fully unclothed.
This is a concept production. They are frozen and unselfconscious in their enchanted state. There is no magic to counter the enchangment--Ruggiero takes a dagger from Alcina and she plunges herself onto it in suicide over her failure to seduce him. When she dies, the magic is gone, so the first thing they do is put all their clothes back on.
According to Rough Guide, Alcina was intended to provide competition for Farinelli who was performing for a rival company in London that season.
I must say Susan Graham makes a very fetching boy toy, and manages some quite good singing as well. Renée sings well, too. She really sinks her teeth into Alcina. Oh well. Maybe I’m not really the Eurotrash type.
The film appears to be pirated, or “non-television” as HofO describes it.
P.S. When I give such a high rating to a HofO DVD, it is for the content, not the quality of the product. The singing is superb and the nude men are also nice.