ACIS AND GALATEA | STAGE REVIEW
Royal Welsh College Of Music And Drama, Cardiff, Thurs 30 Jan.
English language opera Acis and Galatea is the famous ‘little opera’, as its relatively short in the grand ol’ world of opera, written by Mr. Handel himself.
This is the show that Mid Wales Opera decided to, not just bring to Cardiff in their first performance in the capital in 20 years – due to their admirable dedication to smaller venues usually deprived of live opera, but to open their 25th anniversary season.
The show is also the first co-production with the young talent at the Royal Welsh College Of Music And Drama – a collaboration that clearly paid off as the Greek myth based love-triangle tale was performed beautifully by the cast, chorus and orchestra.
Smitten Acis (Oliver Mercer) and saucy Galatea (Jane Harrington) are in love, much to the joy of everyone – the only exception being jealous Cyclops Polyphemus (Mathew Stiff) who wants gorgeous Galatea to himself.
The singing in the show was truly flawless; the music was beautiful and the performers gave justice every note. A special mention needs to go to Stiff, whose whole body switched gracefully between an individual tattered by unrequited love and a monster bullying his way to what he wants.
Another mention should be made of mezzo-sopranoe chorus Chloe Hinton whose subtle facial expressions while singing caught my eye and struck me as honest and heartfelt.
Even the set was well thought out, as it began life as two plain partitions of wood on a bare stage, but folded and unfolded to reveal forest scenes. It was almost as if the story had been set in a popup book, and it truly added to the magic of the fairytale-like production.
The production has groping galore and straddling for sure – this is a production that isn’t afraid to have a bit of fun with the text, and embrace a beautiful sexiness to the characters’ interactions. This is much needed in a storyline that is a little slow.
In fact the only flaw I felt watching Acis and Galatea was the opera itself. I will happily admit that I’m a complete opera beginner, and this show was only the second I have ever seen. With Acis and Galatea being an opera in English I was excited to hear an opera in which I would have to balance taking in the atmosphere and reading the subtitles in order to follow the plot. Unfortunately the plot seemed small and the lyrics repetitive.
Although this particular production wasn’t my cup of tea it did show the exciting possibilities for Mid Wales Opera’s new season. The young talent on display, thought for seemingly small but important aspects and overall charm are all a sign of good things to come and I can honestly say I’m insanely excited for their production of Carmen scheduled to tour later this year.
words HEATHER ARNOLD photos ROBERT WORKMAN
Theatr Hafren, Newtown, Powys, Fri 7 Feb. Tickets: £10 – £18. Info: 01686 614555 / www.thehafren.co.uk
Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon, Sat 15 Feb. Tickets:$17.50 – £19.50. Info: 01874 611622 / www.brycheiniog.co.uk
St Davids Cathedral (as part of the St Davids Cathedral Festival), Fri 30 May. Info: 01223 847330 / www.stdavidscathedral.org.uk