Classical review: Fine music at Ryedale festival

The Royal Northern Sinfonia.The Royal Northern Sinfonia.
The Royal Northern Sinfonia.
Throughout the history of music composers have been singularly hapless when standing in judgement of their own works.

Handel proves the point by never having sought to restage his dramatic opera, Alcina, after its brief life at Covent Garden in 1735. Come forward 150 years, and it was acclaimed to be among his finest stage works, the great sopranos of the 20th century relishing the virtuosity of Handel’s writing. Its drawback was certainly its original three and a half hour length that included an extended ballet sequence. Ryedale Festival’s new production from Nina Brazier reduces it to more modest dimensions. Singing the part of Alcina is the American-born, Cherise Lagasse, a recently emerging talent on the international opera circuit.

With a top-ranking period instrument group from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the first of two performances in the Ampleforth College Theatre includes a supper interval for picnics on the College’s manicured lawns (July 16 and 18).

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Opening with a Gala Coffee Concert by Septura in Pickering church (see today’s Album Reviews), the festival’s theme of William Shakespeare’s role in music includes suites from William Walton’s music for the film, Henry V, and Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as part a concert by the Royal Northern Sinfonia in St Peter’s Church, Norton (July 23), and songs to his words with countertenor, Robin Blaze, in Sledmere Church (July 27).

Ryedale Festival, July 15-31. Tickets 01751 475777 or [email protected]

By David Denton