Bampton Classical Opera in 2024


For their summer production Bampton Classical Opera will present Giuseppe Gazzaniga’s bubbling comedy L’isola d’Alcinawith a libretto by Giovanni Bertati. It will be sung in a new English translation by Gilly French as Alcina’s Island. Performances will be conducted by Thomas Blunt and directed by Jeremy Gray.

The company will also give a performance of Haydn’s delightful comic opera The Apothecary (Lo speziale) on May 6 at The Manor House, Dorchester on Thames, as part of the 2024 Dorchester Festival.

For more information click here

SUMMER PRODUCTION: Giuseppe Gazzaniga’s L’isola d’Alcina – Alcina’s Island (1772)Dramma giocoso in 3 acts


The Deanery Garden, Bampton, Oxfordshire: Friday 19, Saturday 20 July
Westonbirt School, Gloucestershire: Monday 26 August
The Barn at Old Walland, Wadhurst, East Sussex: Saturday 31 August
St John’s Smith Square, London: Friday 13 September

Libretto – Giovanni Bertati
English Translation – Gilly French
Director/Designer – Jeremy Gray
Conductor – Thomas Blunt

Orchestra of Bampton Classical Opera (Bampton, Westonbirt, Wadhurst) / CHROMA (St John’s Smith Square)

L’isola d’Alcina is loosely based on the character of the sorceress Alcina from Ariosto’s epic Orlando furioso – an Englishman, Frenchman, Spaniard, Italian and German get washed up on Alcina’s magical island where the seductive and beautiful sorceress (although 800 years old) has a habit of discarding her lovers and turning them into rocks or animals.

Gazzaniga (1743-1818), wrote at least 50 operas, of which L’isola d’Alcina was one of the most successful. His most famous was Don Giovanni, 1787 (staged by Bampton in 1997 and 2004, and performed at the Royal College of Music in November 2023). The first performance of L’isola d’Alcina was at Teatro San Moisè, Venice in 1772, and it was widely seen in Europe until 1785. There were performances at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket, London in 1776 and 1777 – but probably not in England since then.

In this effervescent and fast-moving opera set on a tropical desert island paradise, Bertati and Gazzaniga pit the (perhaps limited) wits of a motley collection of Europeans against the dangerous amorous snares of the insatiable Alcina. Fortunately the Europeans are assisted by two charming but disloyal resident nymphs, with whom they eventually escape from the island. Much fun is made of the linguistic confusions of the shipwrecked group, in contrast to the passion and discontent of the ageless but perhaps weary sorceress. The music is fluent, cheerful and graceful, propelling the story forward with restless energy.

The wonderful cast includes four singers returning to Bampton: Sarah Chae and Owain Rowlands (Salieri At the Venice Fair 2023); Jonathan Eyers (Haydn Fool Moon 2022); Susanna Fairbairn (Handel Clori, Tirsi and Fileno 2022). Charlotte BadhamMonwabisi LindiSimon Brown, and Magnus Walker are making their company débuts.

Alcina – Susanna Fairbairn (soprano)
Lesbia – Sarah Chae (soprano)
Clizia – Charlotte Badham (mezzo-soprano)
Brunoro – Monwabisi Lindi (tenor)
La Rose – Simon Brown (tenor)
James – Magnus Walker (tenor)
Don Lopes – Jonathan Eyers (baritone)
Baron Brikbrak – Owain Rowlands (baritone)

Repetiteur – Alex Norton
Assistant director – Christian Hey
Movement director – Karen Halliday
Costume designer – Pauline Smith, Anne Baldwin
Lighting – Ian Chandler

Performance (as with Salieri’s At the Venice Fair in 2023) in collaboration with Forschungszentrum Hof | Musik | Stadt, Schwetzingen, Germany

Recorded on CD by L’arte del mondo, c. Werner Ehrhardt (Deutsche harmonia mundi) 2023 staged at Schwetzingen Festival, 2022.

Haydn’s The Apothecary (Lo speziale) 6 May, 4pm – Dorchester Festival 2024 (Dorchester-on-Thames)

The Manor House, 12 Manor Farm Road, Dorchester on Thames, Oxfordshire, OX10 7HZ
Opera in three acts – Libretto based on Carlo Goldoni – English translation by John Warrack

Sempronio, an old apothecary – Guy Beynon (tenor)
Grilletta, Sempronio’s ward and pupil – Iúnó Connolly (soprano)
Mengone, Sempronio’s apprentice – Henry Ross (tenor)
Volpino, a foppish young man – Madeline Robinson (soprano)

Conductor – Mark Austin
Director – Jeremy Gray
Orchestra of Bampton Classical Opera

Sempronio, a work-shy apothecary, spends his time with the newspapers, attempting to sift reality from fake news, but is readily distracted by the charms of his pretty ward Grilletta. But her fluttering eyes are cast on his shy assistant, Mengone, a youth with little understanding of chemistry who somehow concocts a powerful laxative, to be praised in one of Haydn’s jauntiest arias. Meanwhile Grilletta is also wooed by the foppish Volpino, whose mastery of disguise leads to a finale of delightful silliness.

Bampton Classical Opera has taken a lead in presenting Haydn’s neglected operas to new audiences and has staged six with great success, including last season’s much-praised production of Fool Moon (Il mondo della luna). The Apothecary is one of his earliest surviving performable operas. With its simple but witty plot, the opera demonstrates the composer’s delight in exploring bizarre situations and creating affectionately humorous music.

The Manor House garden opens for riverside picnics from 2pm. If wet, the performance will take place in Dorchester Abbey.

Tickets are £45 (to include priority seating and a post-performance reception) or £25, and are available if you click here.

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