Love, deceit and redemption will be on display during the upcoming production of Georg Friedrich Händel’s “Ariodante” by the Shepherd School of Music Opera and Chamber Orchestra. Conducted by Richard Bado, director of Rice University’s Opera Studies Program and directed by Edward Berkeley, guest stage director, the opera will be presented in Alice Pratt Brown Hall’s Wortham Opera Theatre March 15, 17 and 19. Sunday’s performance will be at 2 p.m.; all other performances will be at 7:30 p.m.
“Ariodante” is Händel’s captivating tale of false accusations, princesses, jousting knights and rescue. It premiered in 1735 and was Händel’s first opera to be staged in London’s Covent Garden opera house. The opera was well-received by London audiences, and although it subsequently fell out of regular performance for the next two centuries, “Ariodante” has enjoyed a revival within the last 40 years.
Bado said he is delighted to be conducting a Händel opera this year.
“What I love most about his operas is that each situation in the plot addresses contemporary thoughts and emotions,” he said.
Bado said the musical numbers in this opera provide excellent opportunities for technical and expressive growth of the student performers.
Edward Berkeley, director of the Aspen Opera Theater Center and undergraduate opera studies at the Juilliard School, returns to Rice as the production’s guest stage director. He previously directed the Shepherd School’s spring 2012 production of “Romance X 3” and called the atmosphere at Rice “a great working environment.”
“The students are truly amazing,” Berkeley said. “‘Ariodante’ is a challenging opera to stage as the characters have an intricacy that emerges bit by bit, throughout the course of the story. As music and text return, the music changes subtly and the meaning of the text must change emotionally; the performers are challenged to explore the subtleties of these changes in their performances. I’m enjoying the openness of the singers in exploring these different emotions.”
Berkeley and Bado have known each other for a long time and have worked together in several different places. “Because of our history of working together, there’s been a very easy give and take in making choices musically and dramatically,” Berkeley said.
Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for students and senior citizens. For reservations, call 713-348-8000.