Opera Scotland

George Frideric Handel

Acis and Galatea

Posted 27 May 2013

The forthcoming production by St Andrews Opera of Handel's Acis and Galatea allows us to recall something about the work, and the first recorded Scottish performance - in Edinburgh.

Set to an English text said to be by John Gay, Acis and Galatea is by far Handel's most popular dramatic work  and indeed has never left the repertory. Perhaps the best known piece is the tenor aria "Love in her eyes sits playing."

The work has been described variously as a masque, a serenata or a pastoral opera. Its Edinburgh premiere (Tuesday 26 March 1751) was advertised in the Caledonian Mercury of 18 March as follows:-

"For the benefit of Mr McDougall. At the New Concert-hall in the Canongate will be performed the celebrated Mask of Acis and Galatea, set to musick by Mr Handel. The vocal part by Mrs LAMPE and Mrs STORER and others, and the Instrumental Part by the best Masters. To begin precisely at six o'clock.

Tickets to be had at the Coffee-houses in Edinburgh, and at Salmon's coffee-house in the Area of the Concert-hall, where places in the boxes may be taken. Pit and Boxes 2s 6d, gallery 1s 6d."

St Andrews Opera Director Jane Pettegree and her team have the challenge of meeting today's audience expectations.  In the eighteenth century these included Rocks, Groves, Fountains, Grottos, a chorus of Nymphs and Shepherds and "Every other Decoration suited to the Subject."

Read about the tour and keep clicking through for more information and to book here.


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