* Notes *
The Conservatory Baroque Ensemble of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music gave a delightful student performance of Rinaldo last Saturday. The vocalists were very fine, and Rinaldo's "Cara sposa" was sung particularly well. The musicians were not always perfectly together, exposed as they were by the smallness of the group and, simply, the music itself. The soloists switched off by act, they were all quite talented, but the playing did lack cohesion.
The production was unintentionally hilarious. It was clear they had no budget and were left to their own devices as far as stage direction. Armida's minions moved in a peculiarly awkward way, though so did the sirens in Act II. The most amusing bit was also in Act II, just after a scene that involved ungainly arm swaying. When Armida takes on the appearance of Almirena, she simply brings a mask (aloft on a stick) to her face.
* Tattling *
The audience laughed a great deal, sometimes at the super-titles and sometimes at the production. One gained a greater appreciation for how difficult pulling together an opera is, especially a Baroque opera with such a thin and confusing plot.