HGO PRESENTS PARTENOPE
An opera not-so-seria by George Frideric Handel
Libretto after Silvio Stampiglia
May 17th to 26th 2019
At Jacksons Lane Theatre, Highgate London N6 5AA
Stage Director: Ashley Pearson Music Director: Bertie Baigent
with the HGO Orchestra
HGO, North London’s leading opera company, will perform Handel’s exuberant opera Partenope from May 17th to 26th at Jacksons Lane Theatre in Highgate.
The story of four love rivals seeking the hand of Queen Partenope, amid romantic complications and cross-dressing disguise, with its colourful and vibrant score, went unperformed for many years after its 1730 premiere, but is now recognized as a showcase of Handel’s mastery.
HGO’s production is set at a fantasy Victorian era seaside, at a time when the British middle classes began to enjoy holidays away from their ‘real’ lives and the chance to escape social convention – an era when strong social norms and taboos contrasted with the sense of boundless opportunity resulting from the might of the British Empire and the birth of consumerism.
But there is a sense from the start of the opera that we have arrived somewhere where destiny holds sway, dreams might become reality and Cupid is a force to be reckoned with. In her first aria, Partenope, here the proprietress of a leading seaside establishment, proclaims, ‘Love and fate will fight for me,’ kicking off a whirlwind in which love and destiny seem to be at war.
Ashley Pearson, Production Director, says: ‘The great power of Handel’s opera lies in his ability to convey through the music the depth of feeling of each of his characters. Every aria is grounded in feelings which are familiar to us all. Rosmira, the anti-hero, is a spurned woman who spends the entire opera dressed as a man in her plan for revenge. We can’t help but root for her. Partenope is in many ways the antithesis of Rosmira, but neither woman will let themselves be ruled by men. Both female characters show greater depth, complexity and wit than their male suitors in this love hexagon.’
Bertie Baigent, Music Director, comments: ‘Composed in 1730, it has the structure of an opera seria – serious as opposed to comic opera – Partenope’s form seems in many ways at odds with its eccentric content: indeed the libretto was deemed frivolous and vulgar when Handel initially suggested it as a possible opera subject in 1726. Its varied musical numbers are part of its triumph. The arias in Partenope are relatively short, there are several ensembles for more than one singer, and many wonderfully varied and evocative sequences.’
HGO, established in 1990, is North London’s leading opera company. It is committed to the development of young singers, and stages two productions each year. It also seeks innovative outreach with schools and the North London community. Its consistently high musical, vocal and productions standards make HGO an important part of the artistic life of the capital. HGO won the Off West End (Offies) Opera Production Award 2013 for its 2012 staging of Così fan tutte, and were finalists for the same award in the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018 Offies.
Performances of Partenope:
Evenings at 7.30 pm – May 17,18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25
Afternoons at 4.00 pm – May 19 and 26,
Jacksons Lane Theatre, Highgate, London N6 5AA
Tickets: (unreserved) £27 (Premium Seats) £22 (General Admission) (Concessions £20 – May 20-21)
Online tickets: www.hgo.org.uk/tickets
Phone box office: 0800 411 8881