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The best classical and opera this April 2020—Rodelinda at the Barbican and Scottish Opera’s does A Midsummer’s Night Dream

Plus Biber's Rosary Sonatas at the Merton College Chapel

Rodelinda, The English Concert, Barbican, 25th April

The English Concert’s series of Handel operas reliably offers some of the most vivid musical drama of the season. This year Harry Bicket and his dynamic period ensemble present Rodelinda, a great love story featuring political machinations, a scheming villain and plenty of romantic intrigue. But at its heart this is a tender piece about loyalty and devotion. Iestyn Davies and Lucy Crowe lead a cast that also includes one-to-watch British mezzo Jess Dandy as the vengeful Eduige and counter-tenor Anthony Roth Costanzo (star of ENO’s Akhnaten) as faithful servant Unulfo. Expect plenty of grit and guts in this beautiful score.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Scottish Opera, 31st March to 4th April, Edinburgh; 21st to 25th April, Glasgow

Scottish Opera’s new production of Britten’s intoxicating Midsummer Night’s Dream is directed by Dominic Hill and stars a young cast who promise to bring out both the innocence and the erotic charge in this heady, meticulously crafted score. Soprano Jennifer France’s silver-voiced Tytania is reason enough to go, but add tenor Anthony Gregory as Lysander and Victoria Simmonds as imperious Hippolyta and you have all the makings of a superb staging.

Biber’s Rosary Sonatas, Merton College Chapel, Oxford, 4th April

Mark Passiontide with something more unusual: Biber’s lovely sequence of Mystery Sonatas, based on the 15 mysteries that punctuate the lives of Jesus and Mary, form the focus of the Catholic rosary. Biber’s sequence of violin sonatas—their unusual tunings and virtuosic writing creating new and startling sonorities. They are performed here in Merton Chapel with its exquisite acoustic by Bojan Cicic, leader of the Academy of Ancient Music.

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