Handel
Palau de les Arts · Valencia · February 2008
Royal Opera House · London · February 2007
Royal Opera House · London · October 2003


The last in 12 years of collaborations with designer Anthony Baker who moved on to directing himself, and Francisco's debut at the Royal Opera House. It featured the luxury of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in the pit, under Harry Bicket, Francisco's main Handel collaborator. This production, though surprisingly disliked by the local press, was very succesful with audiences and people in the business and even more surprisingly went on to be nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for best opera prodution of the year and for Bejun Mehta's performance and to be fantastically received by the international press when it was performed in spain, confirming Francisco's special relationship with Handel pieces. The show suffered last minute cast changes and many technical issues during the initial London performances but was finally seen as it was intended when revived in London and Valencia.



Production Team
Set:   Anthony Baker  
Costumes:  Anthony Baker  
Choreography:  Ana Yepes  
Lighting: Wolfgang Goebbel  
Conductor (Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment):  Harry Bicket  

Casts included
Alice Coote, Bejun Mehta, Barbara Bonney, Camilla Tilling, Jonathan Lemalu, David Lucas, Suzanne McNaughton, Adam Pudney, Silvia Tro Santa Fe, Lyubov Petrova, Cristian Senn, Kyle Ketelsen,


"A production of rare intelligence, performed by a cast of genuine Handelian singers. Who could ask for more? Certainly, no one familiar with Baroque or Renaissance iconography could fail to be delighted by the stage pictures and beautiful and meaningful sets, sensitive understanding of the ways in which conflicts between individuals can be made vivid to an audience and above all elegant and authentic singing."

"Remarkably, the production had survived a major cast change, but some initial nervousness aside, one would hardly have known, such was the assurance with which the singers performed their parts: but when the production is right, it has to be easy for singers to fit into it, simply because good opera direction is founded upon the needs of the singing actors who must bear its weight."

"I was surprised at the dislike for this production expressed by my so-called 'mainstream' colleagues, but then most of them liked last year's "Semele", so were obviously looking for different things. Francisco Negrin's direction and Anthony Baker's designs achieved the primary aim of allowing the narrative and emotions to unfold, but they spoke to much more than that, for those able to hear: using images from Raphael (the fallen knight, the distant towers) Botticelli (Venus, Mars) and most powerfully the Dutch "Light Box" or "Perspective Show" employed to evoke the most contained, intimate and yet also rational moments, they provided a context for "Orlando" which not only respected the conventions of the time when the work was written, but also preserved Ariosto's vision of the "furioso" hero, temperamentally ill equipped for the urbane and finally triumphing over himself. Equally impressively, it replicated the production style of Handel's day in the sense that everything was on an intimate scale. Much of the highly evocative backdrop was derived from paintings by Poussin and Claude, and it's hard to see how this highly appropriate setting could be objected to, unless of course it wasn't recognized, perish the thought. For once, the revolve actually made sense, too, allowing Angelica's many bouts of fleeing to appear plausible, and the dancers representing Mars, Eros and Venus were entirely apt, since human frailty is throughout observed and fought over by the personae of Love and War."

"Such a great work as 'Orlando' would be worth staging even in an absolutely trivial, stupidly miscast and stand-and-deliver production, but when given with this kind of style it is an emblem of what the Royal Opera House should be all about."

Melanie Eskenazi
Classical Music Web
Nov 2003