An 18th Century Season
New College Chapel, New College
7 March 2020, 8.30pm
The mythological narrative of Acis and Galatea was a subject of continual fascination for Handel. Extant sources attest to at least three distinct renditions, including the contemporary favourite, Acis and Galatea, which had its London premiere in 1718. A consequence of the lasting popularity of the London version is that Handelâ€™s other settings have been consigned to obscurity. New Chamber Opera attempts to correct this imbalance. For one night only, we will give a concert performance of his 1708 setting, Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo, in the tranquil environs of the chapel of New College. Aci brims with the confidence of a composer cognisant of his capabilities and displays a range of operatic devices that became central to the Handelâ€™s mature operatic style: bravura arias are interspersed with cantabile reflections; doleful continuo-accompanied numbers are contrasted with full-textured, magisterial entries and exits; and textural choice becomes as much a signifier of affect as musical content. Handel evidently realised his precocity, choosing to use it for concert performance in 1732.
Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo offers a unique setting of the familiar Acis narrative – one that certainly deserves both performative and critical attention.