Rinaldo

 

Handel Rinaldo opera to a libretto by Giacomo Rossi. Directed 2014 by marionette troupe master Eugenio Monti Colla at the Ludwigsburg Palace Theatre as part of the Halle Handel Festival. Stage characters are created and performed by the marionette company Carlo Colla e Figli. Singing stars (who work from the pit) are  Antonio Giovannini (Rinaldo), Gesche Geier (Armida), Marie Friederike Schöder (Almirena), Florian Götz (Argante), Yosemeh Adjei (Goffredo), Owen Willetts (Eustazio), and Cornelius Uhle (Mago cristiano).  Wolfgang Katschner conducts the early-music group Lautten Compagney Berlin. Directed for TV by Nils Keber. Released 2015, Blu-ray disc has 5.0 Dolby Digital sound.  As a bonus extra, 2 CDs are included with the entire audio performance. Grade: NA

Rinaldo is cut to 137 minutes to be performed by marionettes and so that the audio record will fit on 2 CDs. With the singers and orchestra in the pit, the audience is asked to believe that the action is being performed by tiny people on the stage suspended from strings and moving in a fantastic world of exotic props. The artwork on the back cover shows how elaborate the production is. As explained by Joe Cadagin, writing in the January 2016 Opera News (pages 48-49), this works fine in a cozy theater with the live audience sitting 10 feet away. But problems may arise when you try to make a video. If you show the whole stage, perhaps the home viewer can't see the tiny characters all that well. The alternative is to move in, which can "shatters the illusion with ridiculous close-ups on the dead-eyed puppets, allowing the DVD viewer to see each robotic head-twitch or arm-jerk." H'm. Cadagin states he saw this in DVD (not in HD). Could this be another video illness similar to DVDitis? If this had been shot just for Blu-ray, could the TV director have taken advantage of the better video resolution to avoid getting too close for comfort? And would you find the jerky movements of the marionettes to be bothersome or would they seem charming? Could this be something to avoid unless you know that you enjoy marionette art?