Lighting up the new Beacon Arts centre, perched serenely on the edge of the water at Greenock's docks, Handel's music was a joy to hear. Even in a pared-down arrangement for three lonely instrumentalists, you can't keep this music down. With just a trio in the pit and six singers on stage, the show doesn't need a conductor, and the ensemble is arguably more impressive as a result, easy to hear in the crisp acoustic. There are also no surtitles so, joy of joys, everyone sings with crystal clear text.
Though the harpsichord, violin and cello do tremendous work, one could do with more soloistic drama from the players, in order to push this slim arrangement from Derek Clark to another level. Sarah Power's Rodelinda, sung with a glowing youthfulness, could also go further in exploring the depths of her role, though her duet with Andrew Radley as Bertarido (I Embrace You) is as moving as the heart of this opera should be.
The comic turns that unfold in the second half, mainly from Reno Troilus (Unulfo) are welcome, if unexpected. Andrew McTaggart (Garibaldo) gets closest to the dark side of the opera, while Sioned Gwen Davies (Eduige) is a likeable baddie.
There are several delights in director Chris Rolls and designer Oliver Townsend's clever use of their miniature theatre set. A satisfying simplicity is maintained throughout, making virtue out of necessity for this compact production.