Classical: Baroque operas on tour

LEAD ROLE. Carolyn Dobbin appears in The Homecoming of Ulysees.
LEAD ROLE. Carolyn Dobbin appears in The Homecoming of Ulysees.
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English Touring Opera’s autumn tour, which includes visits to the Harrogate Theatre and Buxton’s Opera House, brings their now familiar programme of three works from the Baroque era, David Denton reports.

Though today Francesco Cavalli’s La Calisto is his best known work, its 1651 premiere in Venice was such a hopeless flop it disappeared after eleven outings, remaining unknown until 1970 when a much revised version was heard at Glyndebourne Opera to much acclaim.

In its day it offered the popular story where the gods and goddesses fall out. Timothy Nelson created a new and updated production for the company featuring the American soprano, Paula Sides, in the leading role of Callisto.

There were certainly a few raised eyebrows when a few years ago the company’s Artistic Director, James Conway, opened his new production of Handel’s Xerxes. The setting has been moved to the days of the Battle of Britain, with the two Persian brothers falling in love with Serse becoming pilots – one shy and one outgoing.

Conway now adds his new staging of The Homecoming of Ulysses, Monteverdi’s great masterpiece, the story of the hero returning from the Trojan Wars to discover his house occupied by his wife’s suitors. In the leading roles are the exciting young baritone Benedict Nelson and Carolyn Dobbin as his wife.

All three operas come to Buxton, November 17-19 (tickets 01298 72190). Ulysses and Calisto are in Harrogate, October 28 & 29 (tickets 01225 448844).