Fool for love: Handel’s Orlando at the Barbican

Some operas are just begging for a strapline: and if Orlando had one, it would surely be “Dorinda’s Dreadful Day”. First, Dorinda is plagued by doubts that the handsome African prince Medoro truly loves her (which he doesn’t), but optimistically decides to give him the benefit of the doubt, because she loves him. Then she’s informed…

The power of love: Between Worlds, ENO /Barbican

A new co-commissioned production from English National Opera and the Barbican sees Tansy Davies tackle the most harrrowing of modern subjects: 9/11. The opera itself becomes a ritual, an act of communal remembrance through evocation. As you would expect, it is a profoundly upsetting piece. Nevertheless, it is carried out with nobility, grace, and utter…

Not quite heroic: Handel’s Hercules at the Barbican

The English Concert play beautifully, the chorus is in superb voice, but a disjointed cast of unconvincing singers mean Hercules never reaches heroic heights. Adapting Sophocles’ Women of Trachis, Handel’s librettist Thomas Broughton decided to tidy up the hero’s character for the 18th century, turning him into a virtuous husband. Apart from producing an immediate structural…