Summer Opera

Il re pastore

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

4 (Preview), 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15 July 2012.

While Il re pastore – written when Mozart was only nineteen years old – may not be as well-known an operatic work as Così fan tutte or Le nozze di Figaro, it is nonetheless a substantial work in its own right that provides a glimpse into the themes and stylistic devices employed in his subsequent works. Originally a pastoral opera seria, the libretto by Pietro Metastasio was compressed from three to two acts in Mozart’s serenata version, and the plot places emphasis on benevolence and appreciation of the royal archetype during the time of Alexander the Great.

4 July (Preview) Download form here
7 July and 13 July New College Development Fund Call (01865) 279 337
8 July Download form here
10 July Download form here
11 July Friends of the Oxford Botanic Garden Call (07722) 605 787
14 and 15 July 2012 Friends of Welsh National Opera Call (01865) 408 045 or [email protected]

Conductor – Steven Devine
Director – Michael Burden

Aminta: Kate Semmens
Elisa: Rachel Shannon
Tamiri: Merryn Gamba
Alessandro: Adam Tunnicliffe
Agenore: Tom Raskin

Act I
Alessandro, King of Macedonia, has freed the kingdom of Sidon from the grasps of the tyrant Straton. He does not assume the throne himself, but intends to restore the legitimate heir to the kingdom. Thus, together with Sidonian nobleman Agenore, they approach the shepherd Aminta who, unbeknownst to himself, is Abdalonimo, rightful heir to the throne. Aminta declines their offers nobly, being contented with his plans to tend to his flock and marry the nymph Elisa. The daughter of the overthrown Straton, Tamiri, is in love with Agenore but has too much pride to ask Alessandro for forgiveness. Before Aminta can ask Elisa’s father for a marriage blessing, he is informed by Agenore of his true royal identity, and is commanded to appear before Alessandro.

Act II
In a bid to secure peace within Sidon, Alessandro decides that Aminta should marry Tamiri, and this results in series of emotional conflict when Agenore carries out Alessandro’s orders obediently and secretly. Elisa is enraged by Alessandro’s decision, and calls for a public confession on Aminta’s part for betraying his love and commitment to her. Tamiri is displeased with Agenore, who has been torn between his love for Tamiri and his patriotism for Sidon. Aminta resolves to abdicate the throne to be with Elisa, but Alexander, moved by the sincerity of the lovers’ pleas, allows the lovers to be reunited. In a final grand gesture of magnanimity, Alessandro declares Aminta and Elisa as the rulers of Sidon, while Agenore and Tamiri are granted another kingdom to rule.


Antonio Salieri

Antonio Salieri’s setting of Falstaff, is an operatic version of Shakespeare’s play, The Merry Wives of Windsor. The knock about comedy of Shakespeare’s original – it is his only small-town drama – which has caused Shakespeareans to look down on the play are the very things that make for an excellent opera buffa. Central to both works is the scene in which Falstaff, hiding from Mr Ford in laundry basket, is carried out under his nose.

Conductor – Steven Devine
Director – Michael Burden
Repetiteurs – Jonathon Swinard, Benjamin Holder
Leader – Caroline Balding


Sir John Falstaff – Giles Underwood
Master Ford – Kevin Kyle
Mistress Ford – Rachel Shannon
Master Slender (6, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17) – Thomas Kennedy
Master Slender (9, 10) – George Coltart
Mistress Slender – Merryn Gamba
Bardolf, Falstaff’s servant (6, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17) – Thomas Kennedy
Bardolf, Falstaff’s servant (9, 10) – George Coltart
Betty, Mistress Ford’s maid – Kate Semmens

Cover Cast

Sir John Falstaff – Dominic Bowe
Master Ford (6, 9, 10, 16) – Nick Pritchard
Master Ford (12, 13, 15, 17) – William Blake
Mistress Ford – Robyn Parton
Master Slender – Tom Bennett
Mistress Slender – Esther Brazil
Bardolf, Falstaff’s servant – Tom Bennett
Betty, Mistress Ford’s maid – Julia Sitkovetsky

Act I
‘Sir’ John Falstaff arrives uninvited at a party given at Mr and Mrs Slender’s home in Windsor. He is broke, and sees the opportunity to replenish his resources and improve his lifestyle by wooing his hostess, Mrs Slender, and her friend, Mrs Ford, as a way to their husband’s fortunes.

Retiring to the Capricorn Inn, he writes identical love letters to both women. When they compare notes, they realise his game, and plot revenge. Mr Ford is now suspicious of his wife’s fidelity.

Mrs Ford then disguises herself as a German woman, and visits Falstaff. Following in her wake, her husband, planning to catch Falstaff and his wife in flagrante, calls disguised as a ‘Mr Brook’, and furthers Falstaff’s plan to call on his wife when ‘her husband’ is out.

When Falstaff calls on Mrs Ford, the first trick is played out. As Falstaff makes a play for Mrs Ford, they are interrupted by the maid, Betty, with the (false) news at Mr Ford is at the door. They tip Falstaff into a laundry basket to ‘hide’ him, intending to tip him into the Thames. To general consternation, Mr Ford then does arrive and orders a search of the house. However, the ‘laundry’ is removed under his nose, and the women are able to mock Ford for his apparently unfounded jealousy.

Act II
Although they came near to disaster, the ultimate success of their plan has spurred Mrs Ford and Mrs Slender to further exploits, and Betty visits Falstaff to set up another assignation. But ‘Mr Brook’ also visits and finds out the truth about the laundry basket…. this time, Falstaff’s overtures to Mrs Ford are again interrupted by the return of Mr Ford. To conceal Falstaff, he is disguised as the Ford’s cook’s old aunt, someone loathed by Mr Ford. When Ford arrives, he heads straight for the laundry basket; to find it empty! And takes his wrath out on the ‘aunt’ whom he beats out of the house.

Mrs Ford and Mrs Slender decide to call a halt, and to confess all to their husbands, and together, they decide on one last trick to settle the matter. ‘Mr Brook’ and the ‘German Lady’ again visit Falstaff; they finally make a ‘cuckold’ of him, by persuading him to dress as Herne the Hunter with horns, and to meet Mrs Ford at Herne’s oak in the Windsor Forrest. Mrs Ford and Mrs Slender meet Falstaff at the tree, flatter him, and then disappear. Falstaff, frightened, imagines he is bewitched, and is so panicked that he fails to spot Mrs Ford’s true identity when she then appears as the teasing ‘Queen of the Fairies’. In the end, Mrs Ford and Mrs Slender reveal their true identities, and make Falstaff promise that he will err no more.

Book Now

6 July – Download form here

7 July – Download form here

9 July – New College Old Members’ night – call (01865) 279337, or email [email protected]

10 July – The Art Fund – Call (01865) 553 912

12 July – Download form here; or, OXPIP – Call (01865) 778 034

13 July – Friends of the Oxford Botanic Gardens – (07722) 605 787, or [email protected].

15 July – New College Old Members’ night – call (01865) 279337, or email [email protected]

16 and 17 July – Friends of Welsh National Opera – (01865) 865 806


Francesco Cavalli

7 (Preview), 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18 July 2010

Also, 24 and 25 July 2010 at West Green House

For bookings please use the numbers below. For the 7th and 13th please download the forms.

Wednesday 7 – New Chamber Opera – Download form

Fridays 9 & 16 – New College Development Office – (01865) 279 337

Saturday 10 – Friends of the Bodleian Library – (01865) 277 234

Sunday 11 – The Art Fund – (01491) 641 259

Tuesday 13 – New Chamber Opera – Download form

Wednesday 14 – Friends of the Oxford Botanic Garden – (01844) 214 468

Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 – Friends of the Welsh National Opera – (01865) 865 806

Il mondo alla roversa; or the world topsy-turvy with women in charge

New College Warden’s Garden

8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, and 19 July 2009

Cast List

Aurora – Merryn Gamba
Cintia – Rachel Lindop
Ferromonte – Tom Raskin
Giacinto – Giles Davies
Graziosino – Allan Smith
Rinaldino – Rachel Shannon
Tulia – Kate Semmens

Musical Director: Steven Devine
Director: Michael Burden

For tickets for the following dates, please click to download the order form.

Wednesday 8th July (Preview)
Saturday 11th July
Tuesday 14th July

For other dates please contact:

Fridays 10 & 17
New College Development Office
(01865) 279 337

Sunday 12
The Art Fund
(01491) 641 259

Wednesday 15
Friends of the Oxford Botanic Garden
(01844) 214 468

Saturday 18 & Sunday 19
Friends of the Welsh National Opera
(01865) 865 806

Il mondo alla roversa is set on an island in the Antipodes, which is governed by a Council of Women. The cast divides into naturally into two groups; the three powerful women who sit on the Council, and their three spineless lovers. The women are worried the men, being physically stronger, will over overpower them; unbeknowest to the women, the men are quite happy in their state of subjection! The women begin to have doubts about this method of governance, and indulge in some constitutional fiddling; they decide to move to a more monarchical system, only to retreat in disarray, when it become clear that none of them will agree to be the subject on any of the others. Enter Ferromonte; he is unwilling to subject himself to the chains of love, and spearheads a plot overturn female rule. The result? All the characters agree that ‘women in command make for a topsy-turvy world’. Needless to say, the plot is complicated by the relationship of the women to their lovers, baroque in style as well as in period!

Il mondo alla roversa premiered in Venice in 1750. The story is by the great Venetian playwright, Carlo Goldoni, and the score by Baldassare Galuppi; they have been credited with ‘inventing’ opera buffa. From the late 1730s, Goldoni worked at ‘reforming’ Italian comedy; his first major play was the 1738 L’uomo di mondo. By 1743, he had perfected his own style of playwriting, one that combined commedia dell’arte elements with direct, sincere dialogue, and middle-class realities; his opera texts called for a smaller amount of dialogue, and a correspondingly increase in the size and number of the musical set pieces. He and Galuppi began working together in 1748, and together they produced more than 20 comic operas, including two of the most successful 18th century comedies, Il filosofo di campagna and La buona figliuola. Il mondo alla roversa was among the more successful products of this partnership, and survives in more manuscript copies than any of his other operas.


2 (Preview), 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13 July 2008.

Thomas Arne’s opera Artaxerxes was the surprise hit of 1762. ‘Surprise’, because the English did not like recitative, and the last thing that should have appealed to them was an opera in English based on an Italian libretto by Metastasio. The London public’s initial reception was cool; but after the first season, it was revived, and went on being performed well into the 19th century. It held its popularity was partly because the role of Mandane became – in the hands of two or three great sopranos, such as Elizabeth Billington and Gerturd Mara – a testing ground for new sopranos some of whom made their debut in the role. The piece contains Italian style arias with the greast number of ‘divisions and difficulties which had ever been heard at the opera’. Three of these spectacular display pieces were included in the Proms in 2004.

For tickets for the Preview please download a form here.

For tickets for the 8th of July please download a form here.

Please contact the following numbers for tickets as below:

Fridays 4 and 11 July
Paula Wright
New College Development Office
(01865) 289 096

Saturday 5 July
Beth Hughes
University Alumni Office
(01865) 611 622

Sunday 6 July
Doreen Parker
National Arts Collection Fund
(01491) 641 259

Wednesday 9 July
Sarah Taylor
Friends of the Oxford Botanic Garden
(01844) 214 468

Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 July
Elaine Ledingham
Friends of the Welsh National Opera
(01865) 865 806