Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo

Instruments of Time and Truth, Anna Devin, Bethany Horak-Hallett, Edward Grint, Christopher Bucknall
Event date
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Sheldonian Theatre
Broad Street
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£15-£42; students and concessions half price
Disabled access?
Booking required

George Frederic Handel’s “little opera” Acis and Galatea is a well-known and much-loved part of his prolific output, and a cornerstone of the early English opera tradition. But Handel had already put his pen to this timeless pastoral myth ten years previously, in his cantata Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, composed in Naples in 1708.

This dramatic work finds Handel at his most brilliantly Italianate, and, despite its shared origins, has little in common with its English counterpart. Characterised by soaring melodies and flamboyant coloratura, it demands exceptional virtuosity on the part of the singers – not least the terrifying Polifemo, whose raging aria “Fra l’ombre e gl’orrori” is one of the most challenging in the bass repertoire. Coupled with its inventive instrumental accompaniment throughout, this is one of Handel’s most surprising and original works.

Instruments of Time and Truth are joined for this evening of glorious Handelian radiance by soprano Anna Devin, mezzo-soprano Bethany Horak-Hallett and bass Edward Grint, and conducted by Christopher Bucknall.