Dancers with attitude and Monteverdi – a joke? Not entirely. Quaintly set in some present-day dysfunctional classroom, ‘Il ballo delle ingrate’, the dance of the ungrateful lovers, warns against defying Love (soprano Lauren Lodge-Campbell) and the darts of Cupid (mezzo-soprano Bethany Horak-Hallet), whose commanding stage presence, aided by snappy super-titles (for she sings in antique Italian), skilfully explains the consequences of such folly. Her beautifully persuasive singing wins the help of Pluto (John Lee) a worthy bass whose impressively mellifluous range fully compensates for the sententious nature of the libretto. All the singers, supported by the brilliantly responsive continuo players, are excellent but this is a ballet too, and that is where the young dancers of Streetfunk bring vital energy to supplement the courtly dances realised so well by the Monteverdi String Band and Flauti d’echo.

75 years after the Monteverdi, John Blow’s ‘Venus and Adonis’ relates Cupid’s deadly pranks with similar extended dance sequences for Streetfunk to animate. Cupid and Venus swap singers and Edward Jowle adds his rich baritone as the ill-fated huntsman. Again the performances are top-rate but the classroom setting is now not voluptuous enough for the sensuous ribaldry of the Restoration plot.

The Old Market, 7 November 2018
Rating: ★★★★½
Andrew Connal

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