“Acis and Galatea” at ENO, London | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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“Acis and Galatea” at ENO, London

A scene from the rehearsals
(Courtesy: ENO)

George Handel’s “Acis and Galatea” will be on stage at ENO, London.

The opera is based on John Gay’s text after an episode from Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.” This is the first time ever ENO is performing Handel’s first work in English. Director Sarah Tipple explores social exclusion, narcissism and loneliness in a thought-provoking and bold production.

It is a tale of the love between Galatea and Acis, a semi-divine nymph and shepherd, and its disruption by the cyclops Polyphemus. “Acis and Galatea” will be designed by Justin Nardella, associate to Anish Kapoor and Wolfgang Tillmans at ENO. Composer and member of ENO Music Staff Nicholas Ansdell-Evans conducts the opera.

“Acis and Galatea” is a tale about beauty, transient love and jealousy, and is told through music that encompasses the joyful and the melancholic. The nymph Galatea and the shepherd Acis adore each other and love each other to death but their love is challenged by the envious giant Polyphemus, who do not let them be happy.

“The opera is set in a rural prospect, diversified with rocks, groves and a river. As act 1 opens, a chorus of Arcadian nymphs and shepherds celebrate their blissful lives. Among them is Galatea, who is in love, and rebukes the birds for stimulating her desire for the shepherd Acis. She leaves in search of him,” says the ENO website.

Elsewhere, Acis is looking for Galatea, but instead he meets fellow shepherd, Damon. Damon wants Acis to stop searching for Galatea and tend to his flock instead. At that moment, the lovers find each other and proclaim their perfect happiness.

In act 2, the Monster Polyphemus enters and attempts to woo Galatea, who flees in terror. Damon advises the giant to woo Galatea more gently. But Acis leaps to Galatea’s defence and challenges Polyphemus to battle. After Galatea’s pleading, the lovers decide that pledging eternal faith to one another will suffice. The jealous Polyphemus sees this exchange and hurtles a rock at Acis, killing him instantly.

As Galatea mourns the loss of Acis, she decides to use her divine power to make him immortal. And so, she transforms him into a fountain. Find out how the story unfolds amidst songs and dance!

The opera will be on stage from June 9 through June 16, 2018, at Lilian Baylis House in West Hampstead, London, NW6 3AX.

For details, visit: https://www.eno.org/whats-on/acis-and-galatea

Click on the slideshow for a sneak peek at the opera.