Review: Baroque opera Super Bowl

Three world-famous graduates of San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program returned to the War Memorial on Sunday to head a seven-performance run of Handel’s 1735 “Ariodante.”

Mezzo Susan Graham in the title role brought the house down with the Act 2 aria “Scherza infida” (Unfaithful amusement); soprano Ruth Ann Swenson shined as Ginevra; and Patrick Summers conducted with verve and fidelity.

Other principals — including Sonia Prine, Veronica Cangemi and Richard Croft in their debut here — combined their talents in fine performances.

Premiering in the then-new Covent Garden opera house, and then disappearing for two centuries, “Ariodante” is a typical Baroque opera, with an outlandish story of love, betrayal, suffering and resolution, all wrapped up in beautiful arias and powerful ensembles.

From the Dallas Opera, it is directed by John Copley, with John Conklin’s grandiose design and Michael Stennett’s opulent costumes.

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