Acis and Galatea at the Toronto Fringe Festival by Aurora de Pena

Acis and Galatea by George Frederic Handel
Libretto by John Gay and Alexander Pope

Presented by Classical Music Consort from Toronto/New York/London

Acis and Galatea, based on the story from Ovid’s Metamorphises, is a simple confident and innovative Baroque Masque by The Classical Music Consort. There is a feeling of constant movement, wind and water, as the pastoral is evoked not only in the video which projects on performers and backdrop alike, but in the fluid grace of the costume design and constant flux of the choreography.

Conductor Ashiq Aziz employs an ensemble of period instruments to recreate Handel’s composition, and the music shines. The singers embrace every Baroque vocal ornamentation; and the effect is wonderfully emotional and poignant, with the silver throated Rosie Coad (Galatea) making a stunning impression. She is present in voice and body, compelling to watch as well as to hear.

Aziz and director Patrick Young have accomplished something quite special in their relaxed and confident production. Opera, for the general North American population, is dead. This is due to its inability to change and reflect the world as the current generation sees it. Of course there are great and enduring works on universal human themes, but of these, many contemporary opera companies neglect to focus on those universal themes and instead concentrating effort on the preservation of the original art form, featuring corsets and large, heavy sets in giant theatres. Aziz and Young, however, make their production electric by stripping away those excesses and letting the work speak for itself. This is an intimate and excellent production, the right direction for the future of opera.

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