Handel’s Serse Review

Opera Holland Park – 30th June 2022

Reviewed by Fozia Munshi


This historic comedic Opera set in Persia, has everything, love, jealousy, misunderstandings, laughter, and a happy ending.

The Holland Park stage is perfect in its simplicity, the Persian court bought to life by an ensemble cast of skilful dancers and acrobats, there were moments when the background comedy almost distracted from the main characters.

The Opera opens with Cecelia Halls Serse rendition of Ombra mai fu, a tribute to a tree (the above mentioned ensemble being the tree Serse is singing to), her voice filling the stage and she is riveting to watch. James Laing’s Arsamene and Timothy Nelson as his manservant Elviro soon enter the stage providing a dose of comedic buffoonery. Arsamene is engaging and a little infuriating as Serse’s brother, is his fear of his brother greater or the love he has for Romilda?

Sarah Tynana’s Romilda sings entrancingly, no wonder Serse falls in love with her voice. Her song is incredibly beautifully sung and fills the stage almost hypnotically.

Anna Cavaliero plays Atlanta (her role is merged with Princess Amastre in the original opera), she is playfully flirtatious and mischievous, causing laughter and mayhem in her wake, trying in vain to win her sisters lover from her. And Timothy Nelson takes on both the roles of Elviro Arsamene’s faithful servant, and Ariodate Romilda’s father, with great comedic effect his flower seller is amusingly buffoonish.

The Opera is condensed into two hours with an interval, the venue Holland Park is beautifully atmospheric, and watching the show as twilight falls has a rather romantic effect, wrap up warm though, this is England after all!

This version of Handel’s Serse is beautifully directed by Frederick Waxman the instruments included two (that I could see) Theorbo’s, which I was delighted to have the opportunity to hear played so beautifully. The cast of the Opera are spectacular, anyone who wants a romantic evening which ends in a smile should definitely go see this performance of Serse