Milan and the surrounding countryside, early 18th century. Bertarido, king of Lombardy and Milan, has been attacked and deposed by Grimoaldo, an ally of his estranged brother, Gundeberto. Gundeberto was killed in the battle and Bertarido vanished, leaving his queen, Rodelinda, and a young son, Flavio, in the power of the victorious ally, Grimoaldo. As a reward for defeating Bertarido, Grimoaldo was promised the hand of Bertarido’s sister, Eduige—which would grant him a legitimate claim to the throne at Milan. Eduige and Grimoaldo fell in love, but she would not marry him while mourning two brothers—one dead, one presumed so.
From abroad Bertarido has sent word of his own death, intending to return to Milan in disguise, rescue his wife and son, and escape to an anonymous life far from the vagaries of politics and the burden of government. The news of his death has devastated both Rodelinda and Eduige. Grimoaldo, intent on gaining the throne, weighs his options, counseled by two advisers—Garibaldo, his closest aide, and Unulfo, a member of Bertarido’s cabinet who maintains intimate ties with the royal family and is the only person who knows that Bertarido still lives.
With all the backstabbing and double dealing, it was probably meant to play more subtly but these actors must play to the cheap seats and in close up the expressions and actions might seem melodramatic. Also the contrast between the bad characters and the virtuous ones is clearly signaled by the different tones. The deeper tones–Grimaoaldo’s tenor, Garibaldo’s bass and Eduige’s alto, mark them as the bad boys. Bertarido and Unulfo are altos and Rodelinda is a soprano.
The Met audiences loved it well enough in 2006 for the Met to bring it back in 2011.
Production: Stephen Wadsworth
Set Designer: Thomas Lynch
Costume Designer: Martin Pakledinaz
Lighting Designer: Peter Kaczorowski
Fight Director: Steve Rankin
- Rodelinda: Renée Fleming
- Eduige: Stephanie Blythe
- Bertarido: Andreas Scholl
- Unulfo: Iestyn Davies
- Grimoaldo: Joseph Kaiser
- Garibaldo: Shenyang