The Guardian festival blog: Berenice review – witty and winning political chicanery | Music

‘Politics is cursed,” sighs the queen’s adviser in Berenice, an opera that felt more like a satire than it might otherwise on a night that coincided with eight trashed indicative votes. But how could politics not be doomed when it’s pitted against true love? That’s the slender plot in a nutshell of Handel’s 1737 opera, dusted off from relative obscurity to open this year’s London Handel festival in a stylish production by Adele Thomas: a little irreverent, a little cold, but witty and winning.

It’s the second opera to be staged in the redesigned Linbury theatre, which feels like a building divided: on one side, the audience’s plush horseshoe seating; on the other, the big black box of the wide open stage. In Hannah Clark’s designs, the lines of the audience side continue onstage in a massive curved sofa, over which the characters clamber with no regard for what their big-buckled shoes will do to its emerald…


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