Through the festive season, individuals could possibly be forgiven for pondering that Handel solely ever wrote one work: Messiah. Fortuitously, the enterprising staff of artists at IOpera reminded us that different dramatic works penned by this “Anglo-German composer” may also serve to raise the spirits. Handel spent the final 36 years of his life in London and Acis and Galatea (initially composed in 1718) was his first dramatic work within the English language. Set to a libretto by John Homosexual, who based mostly it on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, it displays the affect of earlier English pastoral operas.
IOpera’s modest set with its grassy carpet and 4 columns may need been a far cry from Melbourne Theatre Firm’s elaborate evocation of the Forest of Arden, nevertheless it was sufficient to present us a mixed taste of pastoral setting and basic delusion. The costumes additionally referenced classical design and, except some fancy headwear worn by Galatea and her two attendant nymphs and the enormous Polyphemus’s horns, have been easy and practical. White make-up enhanced the distancing Greek refrain and mythic components.
Jane Magão is one thing of a phenomenon. And he or she is courageous. Not solely did she co-produce, direct, and sing the title function of Galatea, she additionally sang superbly within the Herald Solar Aria Closing the night earlier than opening night time. Probably, she additionally had a hand within the costume-making, as she had for IOpera’s nice manufacturing of Così fan Tutte in April. Two different singers additionally participated within the Finals: Alistair Cooper-Golec and Darcy Carroll. This success, plus the truth that mezzo-soprano Naomi Flatman (Dorabella in IOpera’s Così) received this 12 months’s Herald Solar Aria, are indications of the prime quality of the singers performing on this firm.
Prolonged da capo arias at all times current challenges for any director. The prolonged repetitions can grow to be dramatically static, and motion for its personal sake can look laboured. Magão’s route was imaginative and acceptable, with the 5 singers transitioning between their roles as soloists and refrain members with admirable ease. The standard of the singing and ornamentation is a vital aspect in producing musical pleasure and all singers rose to the problem. Alistair Cooper-Golec won’t be the celebrity castrato that Handel had at his disposal in Senesimo for his 1732 performances, however his nice tenor and capability to sing lengthy, well-controlled and musically formed phrases was spectacular. Darcy Carroll used his wealthy bass-baritone to characterise the lustful big Polyphemus successfully, his “Oh ruddier than the cherry” a spotlight. He additionally offered a agency, resonant anchor for the assorted choruses. Because the shepherd Damon, Douglas Kelly was notably spectacular in his ornamentation of his two Airs. Tenor Joshua Erdelyi-Götz made a vigorous Coridon and contributed successfully to the feel of all choruses in order that these 5 voices blended to type one thing way more substantial than the sum of its components. As the one feminine voice, Magão was excellent. The crystalline purity of her voice was a relentless pleasure in her solos and rode above the male voices simply within the choruses. Handel tends to be stingy in the case of non-chorus ensembles so it was all of the extra rewarding to listen to the trio of Galatea, Acis and Polyphemus sung so satisfyingly in “The flocks shall depart the mountains”.
The chamber ensemble of 9 gamers, together with Music Director/Conductor Peter Tregear on flute, did a sterling job all through. Particular point out have to be fabricated from oboist Rachel Bullen, who performed a dominant function all through. Elissa Koppen on flute and piccolo – somewhat than recorder – was additionally a melodious contributor.
As COVID-19 continues to solid its darkish shadow it was heartening to see that the Fates have been with IOpera. It’s an organisation that deserves to be supported for the persistently excessive normal of its productions.
Heather Leviston reviewed the efficiency of Handel’s “Acis and Galatea” offered by IOpera on the Lithuanian Membership, Melbourne, on December 19, 2021.