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Two Funerals and a Wedding

PELEUS AND THETIS

 

 

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Two Funerals and a Wedding

 

  
"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

Mr. Semibrief 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: Caroline Anderson

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

The 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 but brief.

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.

Directed by Jack Edwards
Musical Director: Peter Holman
Design Robin: Linklater
Photographs: Caroline Anderson

An unrecognised masterpiece of the English Baroque
Le Figaro

Boyce 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