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Handel's 'Acis and Galatea'

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Read my review published today in the Style section of the Washington Post:

Charles T. Downey, Opera Lafayette charms intimately with ‘Acis and Galatea’ at Kennedy Center
Washington Post, April 7, 2011

Handel premiered “Acis and Galatea” at Cannons, the palatial home of the future Duke of Chandos, one of the composer’s most important patrons. Tuesday night, an intimately scaled performance of the work recalled the private circumstances of its premiere nearly 300 years earlier. In the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, the ensemble of period instruments concluded Opera Lafayette’s season by returning to this charming pastoral work, which it first performed at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 2000. John Gay’s bubbly, balladic libretto, drawn from a short passage in Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” (by way of Dryden’s English translation), has many pleasing comic touches that adorn its central tragedy.

Bass-baritone Peter Becker stole the show as Polyphemus, the jealous Cyclops who crushes his rival Acis with a large stone, trembling with rage and plenty of bluster in his low notes. Tenor Thomas Michael Allen made a pleasing company debut as Acis, singing with great agility in the fast passages and true intonation. The tone was a little constrained at the top and not as generally pretty as one might have liked.

Rosa Lamoreaux had an elegant turn as the sea-nymph Galatea, but the top of her voice did not have the ideal shimmer for the role. She could not compete with the memory of the versatile Rebecca Duren, who once performed the most difficult arias while suspended upside-down on ropes in the crazy circus-themed production of the work presented a few years ago by the now-defunct American Opera Theater that was in Baltimore. [Continue reading]
Handel, Acis and Galatea
Opera Lafayette
Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

  • Background on Handel and Acis and Galatea: A Stone's Throw (Ionarts, April 6, 2011)
  • Boston Early Music Festival's production of Acis and Galatea: Allan Kozinn, Finding Many Ways to View One Myth (New York Times, April 5, 2011) -- their cast includes the tenor I would have preferred as Acis, Aaron Sheehan


Anonymous said...

In an otherwise perceptive and tasteful review, it is unfortunate to see Rosa Lamoreaux's fine performance criticized on the basis that her voice was not quite as good as some other soprano the reviewer heard "a few years ago." This is not a fair or helpful criticism, since one can always bring up some past performance greater, at least in memory, than the performance just heard. I thought that Rosa Lamoreaux's top notes were delightful, clear and well balanced. It doesn't detract from anyone's performance that someone, somewhere, did it better.

Charles T. Downey said...

Thanks for your comment. I drew the comparison with that other acrobatic performance (literally) only to say that the role can be a lot more daring. Rosa Lamoreaux is a talented musician, whom I have praised many times.