Three Askonas Holt artists head the cast of English National Opera’s much anticipated new production of Handel’s Rodelinda. Rebecca Evans sings the title role, one of Handel’s most complex heroines and one on which he lavished some of his most beguiling music, Iestyn Davies is her husband Bertarido, the deposed King of Lombardy and John Mark Ainsley sings the role of Grimoaldo the tyrant who plots to keep them apart and claim the throne for himself.
The critics have heaped praise upon the singers, with Hilary Finch of The Times saying that “Davies is on incomparable form. Grimoaldo, as he evolves in wisdom, is sung with huge intelligence and immaculate style by John Mark Ainsley…” and Rupert Christiansen commenting that Rebecca Evans is “…just about perfection as Rodelinda…”. Michael Tanner of The Spectator also says that “The supreme star of the show is Rodelinda, sung with ravishing tone and great intensity by Rebecca Evans.”.
Handel’s operas have been particularly well served by the English National Opera in recent years, and all three artists have featured prominently. Rebecca Evans has previously enjoyed success in the house as Romilda in Handel’s comic masterpiece Xerxes and, more recently, as Ginevra in Ariodante. Iestyn Davies won rave reviews for his comic turn as Armindo in Partenope – an opera which also featured John Mark in the role of Emilio – and no-one who heard it can ever forget John Mark’s ravishing singing as Jupiter in the company’s much praised staging of Semele.
Performances continue until 15 March.
Photographer credits: ENO Rodelinda 2014 (c) Clive Barda