Acis and Galatea

G F Handel
Acis and Galatea
Acis, Galtea, Polyphemus

Conductor: Chloe Rooke

23 & 25 November 2017
8.30pm
New College Ante-Chapel

Tickets
£15/£7 concessions
on the door and from
http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/newchamberopera

One writer on Handel’s Acis and Galatea has commented: ‘It is not clear whether the original performance was staged, semi-staged, or performed as a concert work.’ And therein lies differences in terminology and staging which dogged the work throughout the 18th century. The first term applied to it was ‘masque’, a form in which dance was usually a decisive element. Then it was described as an ‘opera’, implying a filly costume staging of the piece. Next up was the label ‘serenata’, a performance that was advertised as being in costume, but with no movement on the stage. Lastly, it was called an ‘oratorio’, suggesting performances with no costumes and no staging, although it was too short for an evening’s performance and had other works on the theatrical bill to make up a ‘Part III’. New Chamber Opera has performed Acis and Galatea in the past as an oratorio; in November, we will be performing it in a new staging, exploring as aspects of the drama.

The work was written by Handel when he was living at Cannons Park, the home of the Duke of Chandos, during 1717-1718. It traces its origins to the series of pastoral masques set by Johann Pepusch in the second decade of the 18th century, and to the work of the poet John Hughes. The text is attributed to John Gay, and based on Book XIII of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Acis and Galatea are in love; the monster Polyphemus loves Galatea and kills Acis out of jealousy; Galatea assuages her grief by turning Acis into a river spirit as immortal as herself.

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