Saverio Mercadante’s Didone abbandonata contains beautiful music. The opera has magnificent melodies (the ouverture, both Enea’s entrance and second at aria, the act I finale and the act II terzetto, Didone’s final aria are all beautiful), gripping ensembles and a refined orchestration and it is easy to believe the success it had after its premiere in Turin being played in Naples, Paris, and London. I would love to see it staged again.
Jarba’s role was composed for one of the leading tenors of the time, Nicola Tacchinardi. Carlo Allemanno has all the required notes and acceptable coloratura but sings with a dry timbre and a voice which sounds a little veiled. Viktorija Miškunaité has a rigid voice without legato, and smudges over the embellishments, the dramatic and beautiful final aria is negatively affected by the screechy top notes, which are usually in tune. Wonderful on the other hand Katrin Wundsam in the trouser role of Enea. Flexible and warm, the voice ascends with ease to the high register just to leap down with equal ease. She does her best to properly pronounce and her embellishments are sung clearly but delicately. The three remaining cast members all have sorbet arias. Selene’s one is beautifully rendered by Emilie Renard. The male singers have quite challenging arias for Araspe and Osmida but except for some beautiful top notes from Piero Godoy there is room for improvement.
The set by Magdalena Gut works well. A rotating top floor of a concrete building-in-making with iron rods sticking out from the floor make for an unfinished carthagean palace. Cringy however the direction by Jürgen Flimm. Not sure a grotesque psychopath Jarba who rapes and strangles Selene, slaughters Araspe ans stabs Osmida is what Didone’s final aria needed. For the rest singers were left to their fate as it seems they didn’t always know what to do onstage and characters were rendered only superficially. Better Alessandro De Marchi who keeps things going swiftly and directs energetically. Remarkable and excellently prepared the Coro Maghini.
Musikalische leitung-Alessandro De Marchi, Regie-Jürgen Flimm, Bühnenbild-Magdalena Gut, Kostüme-Kristina Bell, Licht-Irene Selka, Didone-Viktorija Miškunaité, Enea-Katrin Wundsam, Jarba-Carlo Allemano, Osmida-Pietro Di Bianco, Araspe-Piero Godoy, Selene-Emilie Renard. Photos Rupert Larl.