Opera Scotland

Acis and Galatea 2013St Andrews Opera

Read more about the opera Acis and Galatea

Two highly enjoyable performances of Handel's great pastoral masque were given in the Younger Hall. This charming work is hardly ever seen in Scotland, even in concert, and a full staging is extremely rare. The production (both simple and elegant) was directed by Jane Pettegree.  The set, designed by Jean Duncan, comprised a high screen at the back, with varying projections to heighten the mood. Costumes, with the exception of Polypheme's business suit, were effectively pastoral.

Conductor Michael Downes had assembled an excellent little band of nine professional period specialists. They showed a judicious mixture of youth and experience. The latter was represented by the familiar face of double bass player Ninian Perry, a regular with most Scottish musical groups, and Alan George, whose tenure of the viola seat in the Fitzwilliam Quartet goes right back to their studies with Shostakovich in the '70s. The youthful talent was typified by the two fine oboists (doubling on recorder) - Leo Duarte and Joel Raymond.

On stage, there was a well-drilled chorus (also nine-strong), and five soloists. If the performance was dominated by Laurie Slavin as Acis that was perhaps inevitable, given his fully mature tenor, always lyrical, but with power in reserve when required. The other roles were well-sung and acted, but there was an unavoidable feeling that they would have been happier in the intimate Byre Theatre, still unavailable until its financial woes are sorted out. Maddy Kearns gave an effectively sweet-toned performance as Galatea - it is quite a substantial part, but she coped with no sign of fatigue. Ted Haxby's Polypheme was perhaps more baritone than fruity bass, but was a confident stage presence. The two minor roles of Damon and Coridon, with one song apiece, were well taken by Chris Huggon and Caroline Taylor. This second performance ended with some quite beautiful singing in the final chorus.

There is a gap of over a week before the single performance in the Perth Concert Hall, but that auditorium is excellent for baroque music, and this thoroughly enjoyable production should work well.

Performance Cast

Acis a shepherd

Laurie Slavin

Galatea a nymph

Maddy Kearns

Damon a shepherd, friend of Acis

Chris Huggon

Polyphemus a giant

Ted Haxby


Caroline Taylor

Performance DatesAcis and Galatea 2013

Map List

Younger Hall | St Andrews

19 Jun, 19.30 20 Jun, 19.30

Perth Concert Hall | Perth

30 Jun, 19.30

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