Following last year’s great success as Orfeo, Caitlin Hulcup returns to Scottish Opera in the title role of Ariodante in a new production by director Harry Fehr and designer Yannis Thavoris, conducted by Nicholas Kraemer. Critics have been praising her performance as remarkably expressive, astonishingly virtuoso, blistering, subtle, and a stand-out.
“The beauty of Scottish Opera’s adroitly cast and meticulously directed Ariodante is the steady darkening of mood towards Act III, where Hulcup delivers a blistering Cieca notte.”
Anna Picard, The Times ****
“Australian mezzo Caitlin Hulcup is convincingly boyish and baffled in the title role, a young lover mistakenly convinced he’s been wronged, with a broad vocal range (and particularly resonant lower notes) and a remarkably expressive performance of “Scherza infida”, probably the production’s standout aria.”
David Kettle, The Arts Desk ****
“There are fine performances ..., not least Hulcup’s anguished Ariodante.”
Mark Brown, The Telegraph ****
“Caitlin Hulcup’s Ariodante - in a role originally conceived for male castrato - is one built on stoical virtue, her velvety nuances a glowing enrichment of the writing’s surface virtuosity.”
Ken Walton, The Scotsman
“This is an opera completely driven by brilliant singing. Caitlin Hulcup completely owns the title role. She looked dashing as the young Ariodante (a soldier, in this production) and took the audience deftly through a rollercoaster of emotions. Her “Scherza infida“, which came shortly before the interval in this production, was pure, heart wrenching sadness. Sung from an awkward crouching position, the sheer knots of grief that betrayal can engender were laid out before us. It was pure, it was sad and it was lovely. Later on, Miss Hulcup gave an astonishingly virtuoso performance of “Dopo notte” – precise, joyful and exquisitely sung. It was all the more remarkable, coming towards the end of quite a long evening of singing.”
Kelvin Holdsworth, Opera Britannica ****
“Scottish Opera has assembled a uniformly strong cast for this production, which is very finely sung. Caitlin Hulcup’s convincingly boyish Ariodante was a study in anguish, her “Scherza infida” heart wrenching, full of melancholy as the blizzards raged outside and a mournful bassoon in the pit amplifyied the sadness. Even at the end of a long evening, her joyful “Dopo notte” was a tour de force, nailing top notes and tricky runs thrillingly.”
David Smythe, bachtrack ****
“Mezzo-soprano Caitlin Hulcup is a superb Ariodante, with flawless agility and a brassy timbre, which is reminiscent of the colour of one Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson. As an actress she gives a startling credibility to this trouser role. One can sense the painstaking work in order to adopt a masculine body language: it is virtually deceiving. The staging prefers the broken man to the outraged hero: her “Scherza infida” is a great moment, perhaps also because, within minutes, pit and stage seem to become one.”
Clémence Faber, bachtrack.fr
“Enjoy yourself,” sings a caustic Ariodante in this darkest of baroque operas. Violins ripple under the melody, and a quiet bassoon steps in where the voice chokes up. The aria is Scherza infida – music that carries profound hurt via pretty simple means, but a total synergy between singer and pit. It’s Handel at his most brilliant. Caitlin Hulcup sings well in Scottish Opera’s new production: her Ariodante is baffled, callow, subtle.
Kate Molleson, The Guardian
Further performances will take place on 20 (in Glasgow), 24 and 27 February (in Edinburgh). More information on the production as well as tickets are available on Scottish Opera’s website.
This summer, UK audiences will be able to see the singer as Idamante in Garsington Opera’s Idomeneo.
Photos by James Glossop/Scottish Opera