Opera Atelier's 'Acis and Galatea'For some odd reason Opera Atelier decided to make the subscription series I have been buying for years for SillyWife and me include seats in the final show of the run, rather than early in the run, as in past years. The effect of this is that my motivation to blog on the show is deeply reduced, as it is no longer possible to influence attendance at later shows.
That said, let me say this was yet another truly enjoyable Sunday afternoon at The Elgin Theatre, and quite different from all the previous productions we have seen. The plot is ludicrously simple: Boy (shepherd, mortal) loves Girl (sea-nymph, immortal), and after trying to find one another they do and everyone is really happy; but there are portents and sometime later a big bad guy comes (immortal), who wants Girl; there is a scuffle, and bad guy kills Boy; Girl is sad but uses her power as a goddess to transform dead Boy into a fountain, which she as a sea-nymph can still really appreciate.
But the production featured all the usual joy of such productions: color, excellent dancing, young, lovely and highly skilled performers, a magnificent Baroque small orchestra (Tafelmusik), great singing. I am not sure how they do it, but they have become wonderful at refreshing the company, so that everything is new once again.
I can only praise the performers.
Mireille Asselin got her first lead here and she was a wonderful actress as well as singer. So glad to see her in the role of Galatea. Thomas Macleay was sensational last year as his linked bio says, and he sure was yesterday. Lawrence Wiliford was a wonderfully mischievous and sweet-voiced Damon. And Joao Fernandes made Polypheme at once threatening, sympathetic, pathetic, and funny. What astonishes me is the deft combination of acting and singing and dancing skills, nothing I recall seeing in opera when I first became enthusiastic about it 40 years ago.
And then there is the music. Having listened to Handel now for 50 years, it is easy to see him quoting himself, but in such lithe and humorous ways, and with such deft attachment to the lyrics, that the almost endless recapitulations are almost painless (sometimes I thought they might have cut a couple). With no recapitulations this show would have lasted at most ten minutes, so they have an effect.
Part of it is to allow us to continue to sit and enjoy the sumptuous visual experience; for all its simplicity, it is a world I think I could have studied through one more show.
Tafelmusik are so good at expressing Handel's compassion and humor.
Touch and smell among the senses get welcome short shrift in these shows, but sight and hearing get a workout and that is just dandy.
If it made any sense I would recommend you go see this production. It makes no sense in the near future in Toronto, but it may someday if they travel with the production.
And by the way, as for finding new young performers and people involved; I saw Jeannette Lajeunesse-Zingg up there dancing, and Marshall Pynkoski introducing the show; they will be forever young. And they are THE artistic collaboration that gives me an amzing amount of pleasure each year.
UPDATE: I also wanted to say that the song lyrics in places were stunning - John Gay was clearly an Oscar Hammerstein of his time.