Operawire Review: Griselda

Saturday, 26 October, 2019
Gris 0278

Vocal Brilliance & Strong Direction Ensure Success For Vivaldi’s Irish Debut By Alan Neilson

The Irish National Opera continues to develop apace. Having been going for less than two years, the company has managed to produce a diverse range of operas that is able to shame more established companies. It could have been excused for playing safe in sticking with popular operas, but it has done no such thing: yes, it has space for Mozart, Puccini, Verdi and the like, but it also has room for rare, contemporary, and new works.

This year, the company has showcased such works as Dennehy’s “The Second Violinist” and Irvine’s brilliant “Least Like The Other.” It is a company which, under the direction of its founder and Artistic Director Fergus Shei, knows where it is going, and has the determination and energy to deliver.

Now it has turned its attention to Vivaldi, a composer who to this point has never had an opera performed in Ireland, with a production of his 1735 work, “Griselda.”

Trials Of Worthiness

Written to a libretto by Apostolo Zeno, revised by Carlo Goldoni, it is an unconvincing story of King Gualtiero, who is deeply in love with his wife Griselda, and is suffering from a discontented populace because they consider her to be too low born for such a position. His solution is to subject her to a series of cruel trials in order to prove to the people that she is indeed a noble person, although he has doubts as to whether he will be able to see it through. She is therefore banished from the palace, while Gualtiero prepares to marry a more suitable woman; she is also separated from her son and subjected to the amorous attentions of Ottone.

Needless to say, everything works out perfectly; Griselda faces the situation courageously, displays a noble heart, and is accepted by all, although unsurprisingly certain tensions remain.

Read the full review here.