"Opera Restor'd combines an unpretentious charm with musical rigour and an aesthetic
honesty you don't always find at the grander venues." The Times
A double bill comprised of two accessible, entertaining and compact works which illuminate
the London musical scene in the 18th century. The English, Purcellian tradition is
illustrated by a masque (Peleus and Thetis); and the fashionable Italian opera by
a comedy sending up Italian opera (Pyramus & Thisbe).
PYRAMUS AND THISBE (1745) Composer: J.F. Lampe Libretto: after Shakespeare
plans to revitalise English opera by combining the fashionable Italian operatic style
with an English text and singers and make his fortune. Unfortunately his libretto
comes from the comic interlude in A Midsummer Night's Dream and his composer is J.F.
Lampe, an accomplished satirist of Italian Opera. With incongruous characters, competitive
singers, and a Lion that insists on harassing the audience the result is comedy fit
for the groundlings.
John Frederick Lampe arrived in London from Saxony around 1726
and seems initially to have earned his living playing the bassoon in Handel's opera
orchestra. He discovered his true métier in the satire of Italian opera and in 1737
had a smash hit with The Dragon of Wantley.
Directed by Jack Edwards Musical Director: Peter Holman Design Robin: Linklater Photographs:
Cleverly adapted from its Shakespearian source, it displays a fine
sense of humour in its score Financial Times
A perfect vehicle for a skit on the foibles
of Italian opera The Independent
A wickedly funny pastiche The Stage
It is all quite
pointless and perfectly delightful The Times
PELEUS AND THETIS (c. 1740) Composer: William Boyce Libretto: Lord Landsdowne
programme begins with an example of what Mr Semibrief was vainly trying to achieve,
a brief, exquisite transformation of classical myth into entertainment for a cultured
audience. A bittersweet allegory on love, the opera reveals eternal truths: to reach
fulfillment lovers must surrender something of themselves; happiness is attainable
Boyce is best known today as a composer of instrumental music but he made his name
with a remarkable series of major works for the theatre and the concert hall and
wrote a good deal for David Garrick. His theatrical career diminished as his commitments
as Master of the King's Musick and one of the organists of the Chapel Royal increased.
by Jack Edwards Musical Director: Peter Holman Design Robin: Linklater Photographs:
An unrecognised masterpiece of the English Baroque Le Figaro
was the sweetest of composers, a writer of simply-accompanied free-flowing melodies.
In Peleus this combines with some terrific post-Purcellian counterpoint to make something,
if not exactly breathlessly dramatic, at least with its moments. The Times