The final concert of the Traditional Concert Series showcases an early work of Handel from his time at Cannons, whose popularity in both his era and our own has proved to be most enduring. This delightful masque will be given in its original concert form with tenor Scot Cameron as Acis, soprano Rebecca Choate Beasley as Galatea, and bass David Grogan as the blustery villain Polyphemus.
Acis and Galatea was the pinnacle of pastoral opera in England. Indeed several writers, such as musicologist Stanley Sadie, consider it the greatest pastoral opera ever composed. As is typical of the genre, Acis and Galatea was written as a courtly entertainment about the simplicity of rural life and contains a significant amount of wit and self-parody. The secondary characters, Polyphemus and Damon, provide a significant amount of humor without diminishing the pathos of the tragedy of the primary characters, Acis and Galatea. The music of the first act is both elegant and sensual, while the final act takes on a more melancholy and plaintive tone. The opera was significantly influenced by the pastoral operas presented at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane during the early 18th century. Reinhard Keiser and Henry Purcell also served as influences, but overall the conception and execution of the work is wholly individual to Handel.