The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe, the Christmas adventure was riffing off a Narnia title this year, complete with a visit to a forest in winter. The denouement was a story about mortality and death, different to that in the Narnian story. The Doctor has become a granter of wishes, which follows from the earlier story Night Terrors. The best thing about it was it introduced me to the actress Claire Skinner, who I shall watch out for in other things. I enjoyed her performance.

Renee Fleming in Rodelinda proved to be a pleasant day at the opera. It was not surprising that Rodelinda’s husband, the king of Milan, had been defeated in battle and fled into exile, he was a counter-tenor! Actually Bertarido, played by Andreas Scholl dueted very well with Fleming. Their foil was Grimoaldo played by Joseph Kaiser. Appearing in a very blond periwig he reminded me of Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter. I started wondering if there was a Grimwald Malfoy in that pure-blooded wizarding family. Stephanie Blythe appeared to be channelling the Countess of Groan (Gormenghast: The Opera, now there’s an idea!) Shenyang as his advisor seemed to be a Machiavellian Oriental. And the poor kid! He takes everything that fate and his mother Rodelinda throws at him rather passively!

Being an early baroque opera it has a happy ending, which was a rather strained. Opera writers must have wised up after this. This would be the role that Fleming once said that she played where the heroine had a happy ending and she got so many letters of disappointment!

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