A Splendid Retake
To anyone venturing into the weird but enjoyable world of opera, this was a splendid introduction. But it was enjoyable for anyone, young or old. Indeed this retake of the 17th century french composer Jean – Baptiste Lully’s opera, Alceste, renamed Hercules, was a lesson in what opera should be – entertaining. Today we sometimes forget this and make opera one of those precious and expensive entertainments that originally it wasn’t. But in the 17th century opera was all about entertaining the crowd. It was funny, serious, passionate, with, as Raymond Harvey said in his introduction to the performance, splendid and elaborate scenery and theatrical tricks.
The opera which Sounds Baroque reworked for schools is all about Hercules before he was brave and famous. Hercules is about to get married to Hermione but on their wedding day their old friend Lyco who is supposed to witness their marriage and pronounce them man and wife, has devious plans afoot. He sweeps Hermione away and locks her up. Hercules not being yet the brave god we know is struggling to find courage to free her. But due to the persuasion of the Sun he does, and of course they live happily ever after!
A Splendid Performance
There were only four performers in the opera. They were marvellous. The main singers Narelle Evans and John Donohoe were great as Hermione and Hercules. Narelle Evans also played other roles most notably the Sun with a very funny cockney accent. The BBC’s Eastenders would have been proud of her! She had most of the good lines and used them very well. John Donohoe has a great baritone voice and deserves to be better known. He played Hercules with the right amount of gravitas and before he become brave, naivety and weakness.
Jennifer Ericksson who played the Viola da Gamba with great rhythmic authority and Raymond Harvey the harpsichord were also splendid in the opera as much as being the musicians.
These sorts of production deserve a wide audience. Thanks to the sponsors and Macquarie University for hosting it as part of their developing concert series. A great night out!