Handel’s Partenope is a seriocomic opera about the busy love life of the mythical founding queen of Naples. Three suitors vie for Partenope’s hand: Prince Armindo, who is timid but truly loves her; Prince Emilio, a hothead who threatens to take her and the city by force if she rejects him; and handsome Prince Arsace, whom Partenope loves but who has left another woman, Rosmira, standing at the altar. The jilted Rosmira disguises herself as a soldier, Eurimene, and sets about sabotaging Arsace’s chances with the queen. A success when first produced in London in 1730, Partenope was infrequently performed in America until the Glimmerglass and New York City Opera companies revived it to great acclaim in 1998. This Lyric Partenope reunites key cast members and creative personnel from that production. Two first-rate countertenors, David Daniels and Bejun Mehta, reprise their respective roles as Arsace and Armindo. Coloratura Elizabeth Futral does justice to Partenope’s arias; Patricia Bardon (mezzo-soprano) plays Rosmira and Kurt Streit (tenor) plays Emilio. John Conklin’s sets are modeled on the ruins of Pompeii; costumes by Paul Steinberg resemble designer suits and gowns. Stage director Francisco Negrin mixes Baroque and modern conventions. British conductor Harry Bicket, a Baroque specialist, is among those making their Lyric debuts. Saturday and Wednesday, February 1 and 5, 7:30 PM, and next Saturday, February 8, 2 PM (with seven more performances through March 6), Civic Opera House, 20 N. Wacker; 312-332-2244.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Sasha Gusov, Lisa Kohler, Christian Steiner.