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Bolshoi Theatre Ends Its 245 Season with Premiere of Handel's Opera Ariodante
Handel's Opera Ariodante staged by Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi Theatre of Russia has finished its 245 Season with the premiere of the opera Ariodante by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759). The premiere series ran at the New Stage from July 22 through July 27, 2021. It was an English National Opera and Welsh National Opera coproduction. The premiere took place in 1993 at English National Opera.

Stage Director — David Alden (carried out one of the Bolshoi’s most successful projects — staging of the opera Billy Budd by Britten, coproduction with the English National Opera and the Deutsche Opera of Berlin; the production got the Golden Mask of 2018 for Best Opera Performance and Best Designer’s Work.) David Alden staged the opera Ariodante at the English National Opera in 1993 for the first time, and now the director revives his own staging at the Bolshoi Theatre.

Music Director — Gianluca Capuano (the Bolshoi debut of the renowned interpreter of Baroque and classical music — conductor, chorus master, harpsichordist, organist, founder and artistic director of Il canto di Orfeo).
Sets and Costume Designer — Ian MacNeill
Choreographer — Michael Keegan-Dolan Lighting Designer — Ian Jackson-French (Original Lighting Design by Wolfgang Gbbel)
Chief Chorus Master — Valery Borisov.

See more about the opera’s history and the Bolshoi’s new production.

Main roles at the premiere, July 22, 2021 (also July 24 and 26, 2021) performed by:
Luca Pisaroni — King of Scotland,
Albina Latipova — Ginevra, his daughter,
Paula Murrihy — Ariodante, bethrothed to Ginevra,
Bernard Richter — Lurcanio, Ariodante’s brother,
Ekaterina Morozova — Dalinda, attendant on Ginevra, Christophe Dumaux — Polinesso, Duke of Albany,
Vasily Gafner — Odoardo, favorite of the king (all days).

Ariodante, together with Orlando, 1733, and Alcina, 1735 — Handel’s trilogy after Ariosto — is one of the most popular Baroque operas. Libretto by an unknown author after the libretto by Antonio Salvi Guinevere, Princess of Scots (1708), based on songs four, five and six of Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Ariosto (1516). The world premiere took place on Jan. 8, 1735, at the newly open Royal Opera House of London at Covent Garden.

The Bolshoi turns to this masterpiece for the first time, continuing to introduce the Moscow public to Handel’s work. In recent years, two operas by the composer have been shown at the Bolshoi New Stage: Rodelinda (2013, together with Aix-en-Provence Opera Festival and English National Opera) and Alcina (2017, together with Aix-en-Provence Opera Festival.)

On July 20, 2021, during a press briefing, director David Alden, music director Gianluca Capuano, sets and costume designer Ian McNeill, lead singer Paula Murrihy, performer of Ginevra’s role Albina Latipova and that of King of Scots Luca Pisaroni spoke to reporters.

Paula Murrihy, for whom the role of Ariodante was her debut at the Bolshoi Theatre, says that for her, it is a great honour and pleasure to take part in such a production.

“And I can say that my being here is a real dream. ... All the technical difficulties of Handel’s music are redeemed by its acuteness: sometimes you stand on stage and feel literally naked, so honest this music is. … I want to say a huge thank you to the Bolshoi Theatre. They took care of us so well here. From the organisational point of view, the Bolshoi was very good. And of course, being at this Historic Theatre, on this Stage (albeit New) is a great pleasure.”

Luca Pisaroni: “This is my first time at the Bolshoi Theatre. And for me as an Italian, the Bolshoi is, of course, a very important name. I remember the La Scala tour in Moscow ... Therefore, for me personally, performing on the stage of the Bolshoi is a great honour and a great pleasure. … Of course, I would like to congratulate the Bolshoi Orchestra members who were not used to this music and still worked incredibly and managed to achieve a historical sound with modern instruments. And the last thing I want to say is that I worked on this production with an amazing group of colleagues.” Sets and costume designer Ian McNeill confesses that he likes Baroque theatre very much. Answering the question whether he had any impossible tasks for the Bolshoi Theatre workshops, the artist replies: “They have materialized everything wonderfully. Both our chandeliers and our costumes ... These are the best workshops I have come across myself. … I really like it when the beautiful and the terrible are opposed on stage. And I really like it when human figures look beautiful, compared to the entourage next to them.”

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