LAKEVILLE — In celebration of its 15th year, the national award-winning music organization Crescendo offers a Spanish Baroque comic opera — an art form hailed by the New Yorker as a “treasure” that is rarely experienced even in music centers such as New York and Boston.
Crescendo will present “Acis y Galatea — A Tale of Divine Love and the River Spirit.” Dec. 28 in Great Barrington, Mass., and Dec. 29 in Lakeville, at a new venue, the United Methodist Church
Antonio de Líteres’s “Acis y Galatea” is an opera in two acts with a libretto by José de Cañizares. It was first performed in 1708, and quickly became one of the most famous of these works called “zarzuelas.” They flourished in late Baroque times and were a blend of songs, choruses and spoken passages, often quick-witted and satirical. The operas feature characters that often are a mixture of gods, mythological creatures and rustic or pastoral comedy characters.
This opera tells the story of the love between mortal Acis and the sea-nymph Galatea and other love triangles involving shepherds and sea creatures, all of whom are threatened by Polifemo, a (comically) powerful cyclops.
The composer brilliantly weaves together Italianate da capo arias, French minuets and Spanish seguidillas (popular dances) that are sung. The singers are accompanied by traditional Baroque instruments and castanets. A small group of ensemble singers act as a traditional opera chorus, commenting in fast-moving and rhythmical responses on the dramatic action.
“This work is the Spanish Baroque version of a Gilbert & Sullivan opera,” observes Christine Gevert, Crescendo’s Founding Artistic Director. “It brings together beautiful Baroque music like Monteverdi’s or Handel’s with a very funny story line. The dialogues will be in English so our audiences can enjoy the dramatic and comic exchanges without translation, while the arias and ensemble pieces will be sung in Spanish.”
Performers are Salomé Sandoval, mezzo soprano (Acis), guitar, percussion and co-director; Catherine Hancock, soprano (Galatea); Sarah Fay, soprano (Glauco); Malina Rauschenfels, mezzo soprano (Tisbe); Eric Miranda, baritone (Momo); Thomas Schindler, (Polifemo) and Pat Barton (Doris). They are joined by Crescendo’s Vocal Ensemble Singers, and period instrument players Job Salazar and Malina Rauschenfels (violins); Tricia Van Oers (recorder); Christa Patton (recorder and harp); Hideki Yamaya (theorbo and guitar).
Christine Gevert leads this semi-staged performance from the harpsichord in a collaboration with Ensemble El Fuego (Salomé Sandoval, Artistic Director).
Performances are Dec. 28 at 4 p.m. at Saint James Place, 352 Main St., Great Barrington, MA, and Dec 29 at 4 p.m. at United Methodist Church, 319 Main St., Lakeville, — a new winter venue for Crescendo’s concerts.
Tickets are $35 general; $60 premium, $10 students. For more information and tickets, visit www.worldclassmusic.org