At first, last night, The English Concert seemed a regression to the bad old days. Their Bach Suite #1 was tepid stuff. But fortunately David Daniels was there to save the day, and roused them to fire and drama. There was a moment in Schlummert ein from Cantata #83, with just his voice, the cello and the lute that was heart-stopping.
Actually the instrument Paula Chateauneuf played was a therobo, a lute with a second peg-box. It’s bizarre-looking, and barely audible, but when you do hear it, it stings.
The second half was all Handel, at which everybody on stage was completely at home with, resulting in a glorious uproar.
Singing is strange enough, and then for a man to sing so high .... But then the history of opera is partially a history of castrati. Even so, simply to listen for the beauty of the voice now requires undoing a lifetime of conventional expectations.
Unmistakable is DD’s gift for drama, and the dramatic aspect of Handel. I'm grateful L.A. Opera is doing Tamerlano next year, but isn't it time to do an all-Baroque season at the opera?