Handel's closet holds only music, no skeletons

No caveat was necessary for the exquisite music of George Frideric Handel sung brilliantly by four voice students from the Cleveland Institute of Music, at the FYI: Opera program on Oct. 8 at Porter Library.  

But the lack of juicy gossip from the composer’s life (1685-1759) prompted David Bamberger, who narrated the program, to advise the audience that historians and biographers aggressively looked for salacious details in Handel’s life, but could find none. He coupled that news with consideration of Handel’s enormous amount of music and observed, “Evidently, he did nothing but write and direct music.” Therefore, there is no point in discussing Handel’s life, he added. 

Bamberger, who is Artistic Director of the Cleveland Institute of Music Opera Theater, continued on to use his vast knowledge and innate humor to bring the plot of Handel’s "Alcina" to life as he introduced each of the arias. Using their magnificent voices and acting skills, the international cast of singers created well the aura of their character’s personality. 

Maria José Badano of Uruguay, as Alcina, opened the program as the confident, beautiful sorceress who wins lovers by casting spells over them. She later sang an aria lamenting the fact she is getting old (300 years?) and is not as beautiful as she once was. 

The character Bradamante, sung by Huiyu Zhang of China, is the brave fiancee of Alcina’s latest spellbound lover. She gets onto the island dressed as a man to rescue her fiancé. Bradamante sings of her plight with passion, but is soon the object of affection of Alcina’s younger sister Morgana, Rachel Kunce, who thinks she is a man. 

The plot thickens when Bradamante, Morgana and Morgana’s boyfriend, Oronte (Kevin Adamik), all meet and try to advance their very different objectives. The creative trio delighted the audience. Adamik also skillfully performed Oronte’s aria deliberating whether getting the woman you want is such a good deal. Kunce and Adamik are from the U.S. 

John Simmons, CIM music director, provided expert piano accompaniment for the singers. This winning combination resulted in an outstanding performance. The availability of these exceptional programs, offered free to the public, is made possible by the Westlake-Westshore Arts Council. 

Louise Seeholzer

Publicist for Westlake-Westshore Arts Council

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Volume 6, Issue 21, Posted 9:59 AM, 10.14.2014