by Mike Telin
In Book XIII of Ovid’s epic poem Metamorphoses, we encounter the tale of Ajax and Ulysses and the armor of Achilles, the Fall of Troy, and the pilgrimage of Aeneas. Book XIII also contains the story of the lovers Acis, a mortal shepherd, and Galatea, a sea nymph. But when Acis is killed at the hands of Polyphemus, the jealous Cyclops, Galatea transforms her lover into an immortal river spirit.
This week, Oberlin Opera Theater presents Handel’s Acis and Galatea in Hall Auditorium beginning on Thursday, November 11 at 8:00 pm. Performances continue on Friday and Saturday at 8:00 and on Sunday at 2:00 pm. With a libretto by John Gay, the opera will be sung in its original English. Guest conductor Matilda Hofman leads a cast of seven principal performers, a 16-member chorus, and the Oberlin Orchestra. The opera is presented in two acts with a duration of approximately two hours, including intermission. Click here for tickets.
Originally devised as a one-act masque, Acis and Galatea was premiered in 1718 and by the mid-century, it had been staged more than 70 times. It is also one of the composer’s only staged works to remain popular after his death. In addition to a masque, the work has been described as a serenata, a pastoral opera, and even an oratorio.