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David Alden’s splendid production of Deidamia is a joy. His witty update of Handel’s last opera captures its bitter-sweet blend of irony and heartbreak, and features a stellar performance from Sally Matthews, whose portrayal of Deidamia, as she passes from innocence to the disillusion and fury of ‘M’hai resa infelice’, is intensely moving.

There’s strong support too from Veronica Cangemi’s Nerea and Olga Pasichnyk, whose gauche, laddish Achilles in a frilly pink frock is a comic delight; but Silvia Tro Santafé’s Ulysses, though well sung, lacks the necessary onstage menace, despite her Gestapo greatcoat!

Handel’s poignant satire on classical heroism may not seem relevant today, but its implicit critique of male bellicosity takes on more familiar guises, thanks to Alden’s inventive allusions to the rise of fascism and the Vietnam War. The basic question the opera addresses — love or honour? — continues to resonate.

Graham Lock Read the full review on Agora Classica


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Early Music Today, 2013 - ©Rhinegold Publishing