Best known for its exquisite opening aria sung to a tree (Ombra mai fu) and bristling with thwarted passions, Xerxes is arguably Handel’s greatest opera. Opera Theatre Company stages the work as part of their Handel Trilogy 2009, commemorating the 250th anniversary of the great composer’s death. Spring 2009 will see Xerxes open in the O’Reilly Theatre, Belvedere College, Dublin, before touring to ten theatres throughout the country.
The second opera in the trilogy, which will have a summer run in Dublin before touring, is the beautiful and moving Acis & Galatea. With a cast of young singers (much as Handel had when Acis was first performed in the summer of 1718) this production will build on the success of this year’s Bastien & Bastienne (Dublin Fringe Festival 2008) - Opera Theatre Company’s first opera performed solely by singers from their Young Associate Artists’ Programme.
As a culmination of our Handel Trilogy 2009, Opera Theatre Company presents the powerful and musically astonishing Alcina, Handel’s 1735 exploration of selfless love and magical corruption. Alcina will be directed by the company’s Artistic Director, Annilese Miskimmon and Christian Curnyn (Orlando 2007, The Coronation of Poppea 2006) will conduct a baroque orchestra.
Opera Theatre Company has a leading reputation in the field of Handel opera, with a proven track record having enjoyed full houses and critical acclaim for many productions including, Tamberlane (1992) Ariodante (2003) and most recently Orlando (2007). The company offers original artistic experiences of the highest quality to a wide cross section of the population. Minister of State with responsibility for the Arts, Dr. Martin Mansergh describes how the company;
champions a living, dynamically unfolding art form through its innovation, experimentation and creativity…it has the confidence to pursue excellence in all it undertakes and delivers to Irish cultural life[i].
Xerxes boasts a powerful cast that include Irish mezzo-soprano Imelda Drumm, Natasha Jouhl (who performed in OTC’s Orlando 2007), Rebekah Coffey (Hansel & Gretel 2007, Poppea 2006, Vera of Las Vegas 2004) and Brendan Collins (Fidelio & The Marriage of Figaro). The opera holds up for gentle ridicule a tangled web of lovers caught in romantic crossfire as they plot, connive and scheme in this witty romantic comedy. King Xerxes and his brother Arsamene are in love with Romilda. However, both she and her manipulative little sister Atalanta love Arsamene. Meanwhile, Xerxes' jilted fiancée Amastre stalks the scene, disguised as a man, looking for revenge.
Sung in English, Xerxes is directed by Michael Moxham with Music Direction by Andrew Synnott. The captivating score is performed by the Opera Theatre Company’s ensemble. Design is by Sarah Bacon with lighting design by Kevin Treacy.
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Spring 2009: HANDEL XERXES