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Haydn: La vera constanza

An 18th Century Season

New College Antechapel, New College
7 and 8 February 2020, 8.00pm

Tickets: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/newchamberopera

Haydn’s riotous comedy, La vera Costanza, The True Constant, was one of the composer’s early works for the theatre at Eszterháza, the summer palace of his patron, from 1762, Nikolaus I, Prince Esterházy. The opera was first performed on 25 April 1779 and was later revived there in 1785. The version of the work we have today is a reconstruction for the 1785 revival; a fire destroyed the theatre in late 1779, and with it were lost the performing materials and scores for some of Haydn’s operas. The composer subsequently reconstructed a number of them – including the much-loved Il mondo della luna – from sketches and from memory.

Haydn’s opening storm sequence which begins in the overture, sees Baroness Irene, Ernesto, Lisetta, and Villotto rescued from a shipwreck by Rosina and Masino. Count Errico, whom she hopes to dissuade from marrying the fisherwoman Rosina. But – and not unusually for the 18th century – we discover that the Count has ALREADY married (and abandoned) Rosina, who has had child by him. Neither the Count nor the Baroness and her retinue know of the child’s existence. The Baroness is promoting Villotto as a possible husband for Rosina, an impossibility that descends into farce, when the Count suddenly appears, threatening to kill his rival with a pistol. And so the opera proceeds, with Ernesto threatening Masino with a dagger, and other probable – and improbable – incidents!

Conductor: Joseph Beesley
Assistant conductor: Toby Stanford
Director: Michael Burden

Rosina: Aine Smith
Baroness Irene: Laura Coppinger
Lisetta: Maryam Wocial
Count Errico: Richard Douglas
Marquis Ernesto: James Gant
Masino: Dominic Spencer Jolly
Villotto: Filippo Turkheimer

HANDEL: ACI, GALATEA, E POLIFEMO

An 18th Century Season

New College Chapel, New College
7 March 2020, 8.30pm
Tickets: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/newchamberopera

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 Handel’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 Handel’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.

Baldassare Galuppi: La Diavolessa (The She Devil)

An 18th Century Season

The Warden’s Garden, New College, 6.30pm

July 1
Tickets: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/newchamberopera
July 4
Tickets: New College Development Fund (01865) 279 337
July 7
Tickets: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/newchamberopera
July 8
Tickets: Friends of the Oxford Botanic Gardens (07954) 136751
July 10
Tickets: New College Development Fund (01865) 279 337
July 11
Tickets: Friends of Welsh National Opera (01844) 237 551

Count Nastri
The Countess, his wife
Dorina, An Adventuress
Giannino, young, lover of Dorina
Don Poppone Corbelli, gentleman
Ghiandina, housemaid
Falco, innkeeper

The ‘She-devil’ of the opera is, of course, Dorina, the character who provides a focus for several characters’ desires. The plot starts out sedately enough; Giannino and Dorina are in love, but Dorina has decided that because Giannino has no money, she will not marry him. Falco, the local inn-keeper, suggests that they try a scam to rob the foolish – but wealthy – old Don Poppone. But now the plot descends into farce. Poppone believes there is treasure in his basement, and Giannino and Dorina pose as Turkish mystics to pretend to find it. When they arrive, Poppone mistakes the pair for the Roman Count Nastri and his wife the Countess, whom Poppone was also expecting; when the real noble couple arrives, they are mistaken for the announced Turks. CHAOS. Musically, the most important interesting number is the second finale, which contains the séance; the score evokes mysterious and eerie powers.

Galuppi and the librettist Carlo Goldoni, between them invented opera buffa as we know it today. The Venetian-born composer worked both as a writer of opera seria and then in the newly developed drama giocoso. His music, in an attractive, mid-18th-century gallant style, was heard throughout Europe, and although he spent periods out of Venice – including a spell at the Italian Opera House in London – the city was the focus of his career. His music disappeared into obscurity, partly because Napoleon’s invasion of Venice in 1797 resulted in Galuppi’s manuscripts being scattered and, in many cases, lost or destroyed. La Diavolessa, which was premiered at the Teatro S Samuele in November 1755, however, did survive, and is among those works revived during the 20th century.

Cimarosa: The Secret Marriage

JdP Music Building, St Hilda’s College
1 and 2 November 2019, 8.00pm

Tickets: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on?q=newchamberopera

The only opera in history to have been entirely encored at its first performance, The Secret Marriage (Il matrimonio segreto) tells the story of Carolina, secretly married to her father’s secretary Paulino. Her father is trying to marry Carolina’s sister, Elisetta, to one Count Robinson, but his plans have been derailed; the Count only wants to marry Carolina. Meanwhile, Carolina’s and Elisetta’s Aunt Fidalma has fallen in love with Paulino, providing yet another complication… the libretto, by Bertati, is based on an English comedy by George Coleman, and set by Cimarosa, one of the most prolific and capable opera composers of the late 18th century. It was first staged on 7 February 1792.

Conductor: Joseph Beesley
Assistant conductor: Toby Stanford
Director: Michael Burden

Carolina: Margaret Lingas
Elisetta: Emily Brown Gibson
Fidalma: Stephanie Franklin
Paulino: Richard Douglas
Count Robinson: Tom McGowan
Geronimo: Chris Murphy

Intimate Virtuosity: Bach and Couperin for solo keyboard and voice

New College Chapel
20 November 2019
8.30pm

Madeline Claire de Berrié, soprano
Georgie Malcolm, soprano
Filippo Turkheimer, bass
Anhad Arora, harpsichord and director

Tickets: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/whats-on?q=newchamberopera

“Brashness and grace vie side-by-side for one evening as New Chamber Opera interpret two pillars of the High Baroque”

J.S. Bach’s virtuosic cantata for solo voice and harpsichord, ‘Amore Traditore’, and Louis Couperin’s magnificent ‘Lecons de Tenebres’ are seemingly at opposite ends of the affective spectrum. Bach’s zany cantata, consisting of 3 explosive movements of musical vitriol against the treachery of love, contrasts deeply with Couperin’s noble lament to a lost Jerusalem. But these two chamber works participate in a tradition of what can be termed as ‘intimate virtuosity’. Both the ‘Lecons’ and ‘Amore Traditore’ are scored simply – for continuo and voice – removing the powerful, connotative force of the orchestra in favour of an intimate grandeur that only continuo harpsichord and its bowed and plucked associates can evoke. The two compositions can be seen as affective complements offering two stunningly different conceptions of intimate lamentation.

Director: Anhad Arora

Handel: Il pastor fido

The Summer Opera
3 (Preview)/6/9/10/12/13 July 2019

Conductor – Steven Devine; Director – Michael Burden

In a new English translation by Simon Rees

Cast
Amarilli – Barbara Cole Walton
Dorida – Indyana Schneider
Eurilla – Gwendolen Martin
Mirtillo – Kate Semmens
Silvio – Mark Chambers
Trieno – Patrick Keefe

The Evening’s Events
6.00pm: Drink in the Cloisters
6.30pm: Opera Part I, The Warden’s Garden
Picnic Interval in the Cloisters (approximately 90 minutes)
9.00pm: Opera Part II, The Warden’s Garden
10.00pm: Curtain

More on Tickets

More on Il pastor fido

Arcadia (with balloon)… in the Warden’s Garden

Tickets

Wednesday 3 (Preview) & Tuesday 9
New Chamber Opera

Book online at http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/newchamberopera or download the booking form here.

Tickets are also available from the following organisations

Saturday 6 & Friday 12
Tickets: New College Development Office (01865) 279 337

Tuesday 9
Tickets: OXPIP (01865) 778 034

Wednesday 10
Tickets: Friends of the Oxford Botanic Garden: 07472 365001

Saturday 13
Tickets: Friends of WNO 01844 237551Mobile: 07813907466

Arcadia… as imagined

Il pastor fido

Amarilli, a shepherdess, in love with Mirtillo
Dorinda, a shepherdess, in love with Silvio
Eurilla, a shepherdess, in love with Mirtillo
Mirtillo, a shepherd, in love with Amarilli
Silvio, a hunter, in love with hunting, and eventually, with Dorinda
Tirenio, a High Priest of Diana

Set in Arcadia, the background to the plot of Handel’s pastoral opera Il pastor fido is that Diana, virgin huntress goddess, has become displeased with Arcadia and has let it be known that only through the marriage of a couple descended from heavenly ancestors, one of whom will be ‘a faithful shepherd,’ will her wrath be appeased; Silvio and Amarilli are designated the ‘happy couple,’ to everyone’s consternation. The three shepherdesses spend the opera pursuing the objects of their desire. Amarilli is in love with Mirtillo (who loves her in return) but is destined for Silvio. Eurilla is also in love with Mirtillo (who does not return her love), and tries to undermine Amarilli. Dorinda in is love with Silvio (who does not return her love until he almost kills her with a spear while hunting).

The first Eurilla, Margherita de l’Épine

The opera was Handel’s second one for London; the first, Rinaldo, had been a brilliant success, and the audience was taken aback at this short and understated work. It achieved only a few performances, but it was twice revived in 1734 first with added choruses, and then with added dances, it was more popular, achieving a total of some 14 performances. The two versions represent two phases of Handel’s opera career; the first, his early years in the capital when both he and Italian opera were still finding their feet in the city, and the second, his years as an opera promoter, when he faced competition from the Opera of the Nobility, competition which ultimately damaged the staging of Italian opera in London. Il pastor fido has been performed in modern times on numerous occasions, with the 1734 version first performed in 1948 at Göttingen, and the 1712 version in 1971 in Unicorn Theatre, Abingdon.

SUMMER ORATORIO CONCERT

Mozart: Exsultate Jubilate
Mozart: Mass in C Minor

12 June 2019, 8.00pm
New College Chapel

Tickets
http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/newchamberopera
or on the door

Conductor – Joe Beesley

The two works of Mozart on the programme count among the most beloved in the composer’s output. Exsultate Jubilate was composed by Mozart for the castrato Venanzio Rauzzini, who was the primo uomo in Mozart’s opera Lucio Silla in Milan. Mozart composed the motet for Rauzzini, whose technical excellence he admired, and its first performance took place on 17 January 1773, while Rauzzini was still singing in Mozart’s opera at night. The Mass in C Minor, K.427, was composed in Vienna in 1782 and 1783 shortly after he left Salzburg. The work is scored for two sopranos, tenor, bass, and double chorus.

Portrait of Rauzzini by Joseph Hutchkinson

Xerxes

Xerxes is in love with…a plane tree

Handel

25 & 26 January 2019
8.00pm (the overture will be played at 7.45pm)
New College Ante-chapel

Tickets: £15/£7 concessions
From https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/newchamberopera
Or on the door

Musical director – Anhad Arora
Repetiteur – Joseph Beesley
Director – Michael Burden

Xerxes – Stephanie Franklin
Arsamenes – Connor Devonish
Romilda – Emily Gibson
Atalanta – Georgie Malcolm
Amastris – Indyana Schneider
Ariodates – Chris Murphy
Elviro – Filippo Turkheimer

Handel’s comic piece Xerxes of 1738 was one of his last operas; it was also one of his least successful. The audience didn’t understand his operatic jokes and didn’t see the funny side of it; even though four of the characters start with ‘A’.  Charles Burney later commented: ‘I have not been able to discover the author of the words of this drama: but it is one of the worst Handel ever set to Music: for besides feeble writing, there is a mixture of tragic-comedy and buffoonery in it.’ The buffoonery includes a collapsing bridge, a warring (potential) couple, a foolish general, a servant disguised as a flower seller, and a monarch in love with a plane tree. We can promise you all this, and much more!