A double change in distribution could have raised fears for the quality of this Orlando – Franco Fagioli then Luca Pisaroni having given up this concert. But being replaced, respectively, by Christophe Dumaux and John Chest, there was no reason to worry.
The young American baritone, still little known to the French public, is a Zoroaster of choice: the timbre is dark, well projected over the whole range, and the acute sharp; add to that an undeniable scenic authority and you have a character who takes advantage of each of his interventions, even if they are quite brief.
The love triangle that ties itself within this opera is interpreted, according to the composer’s wish, by three female voices. Nuria Rial is a very beautiful Dorinda, very wise, with pure timbre and elegant ornamentation, but who would have deserved more character, or at least a greater contrast between the different feelings which animate her. Delphine Galou as for a Medoro camp a little back vocally compared to his colleagues: the voice lacking luster and thickness, it gives little impact to the character who does not have the valor that one might have expected. It’s a shame because she has before her an incandescent Angelica, interpreted by Kathryn Lewek : certainly the voice could be sometimes brighter, but what nuances, what lines, and what scenic engagement!
Despite all these qualities, it is Christophe Dumaux’s Orlando that dominates the evening, seizing with obvious ease a role that Haendel particularly looked after, both musically and dramatically. The voice is centered, the vocalizations of an impeccable speed and clarity, the sharp percussive and the excessive breath: it is not a technical difficulty which resists it, and the countertenor adds remarkable ornaments. But Christophe Dumaux also fully embodies the hero despite the constraints of the concert – and the desk: bellicose, cynical and threatening to the point of madness.
The singers share the stage with the Il Pomo d’Oro ensemble, particularly familiar with this repertoire and directed by Francesco Corti. If the orchestra may seem, during the first minutes, a little overwhelming, the conductor quickly manages to restore balance with the soloists and draw more lines. We might have hoped for even more nuances, but the musicians are a real support for the singers and the action, in particular thanks to a continuation of a very appreciable liveliness: Orlando had therefore every opportunity to be furious.