November 8, 7:30pm
November 10, 2:30pm

The Egyptian Theatre

Music by George Frederic Handel

Libretto by John Gay, Alexander Pope and John Hughes

Based on Metamorphoses by Ovid (Book XIII), 1 AC

Opera Idaho joins Boise Baroque Orchestra (BBO) and its newly appointed artistic advisor Robert Franz for a semi-staged opera by George Frederick Handel, the most well-known of all Baroque composers. Acis & Galatea is the composer’s most popular dramatic work and has remained in the opera repertory continuously since its premiere in 1718. It is the first Handel opera produced in Opera Idaho’s 47-year history. Opera Idaho and BBO last collaborated to present Gluck’s Orpheus in 2014.

Tenor Karim Sulayman, winner of the 2019 Grammy Award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album, performs the role of Acis. Young Artist soprano Cara Gabrielson performs the role of Galatea. Franz led Opera Idaho’s West Side Story in Concert (2018) and, as then-music director of the Boise Philharmonic, Faust (2009). Canadian director Erin Armstrong makes her Opera Idaho debut.

Cast

Cara Gabrielson
Galatea

Karim Sulayman
Acis

Jonathan Woody
Polyphemus

Emily Hansen
Damon

Erin Armstrong
Stage Director

Robert Franz
Conductor

In collaboration with:

From the Stage Director

Bringing to life a 300 year old work has its challenges. In the case of Acis and Galatea it was important to find a way to make the story possible and relevant in this semi-staged collaboration between Opera Idaho and the Boise Baroque Orchestra while giving as many “nods” to traditional Baroque style as possible. Onstage, you’ll notice something uniquely different about this production. In place of a traditional set, you’ll find the orchestra, leaving the downstage area and the wings for the story to take place. This serves both artistic and practical purposes. The orchestra is featured (look for the unique lute-like Baroque instrument, the theorbo). This setting allows orchestra and singers to maximize the exciting colors found in this style of music.

Handel’s original adaptation focused on mythology, magical creatures and nature. I really wanted to keep as many Baroque elements as possible while bringing the story into 2019. I replaced Handel’s original natural elements by moving the story into an art studio after Robert Franz sent me some images of renaissance paintings of Acis and Galatea. Thus our art studio at BSU was born. The nymphs and Damon become art students in our story. Graduate teaching assistant, Galatea possesses “divine power,” to immortalize people in paintings. The shepherd, Acis, is an agriculture student, and the “cyclops” Polyphemus, an art professor, intent on abusing his power over Galatea.

Moving this timeless masterpiece to Boise has been a great way to get to know the community. Thank you to Mark Junkert and his amazing team at Opera Idaho for this wonderful experience. Thank you to the incredible cast and to colleague and friend, Robert Franz, on our third collaboration of this nature. It has been an exciting way to make my U.S. directing debut. I hope you enjoy Acis and Galatea.


– Erin Armstrong

Synopsis

ACT I
A group of students celebrate their carefree life and the joys of nature. Among them is Galatea, who cannot focus on painting as she is separated from her love, Acis. She attempts to persuade the birds to cease their cheerful song as they awaken her desire for him.

Meanwhile, Acis is seeking Galatea. His friend Damon tries to persuade him to abandon his search and join his friends in their fun. But Acis finds a portrait of Galatea and praises her beauty. The two are united and declare their love for each other.

ACT II
But their happiness is short-lived. The teacher Polyphemus comes stalking through the studio, intent on having Galatea for himself, but she rejects his advances, so he destroys her portrait. Damon advises Polyphemus to be more gentle in his actions. Acis returns, outraged at the graffiti and leaps to Galatea’s defense. Damon gently asks him to consider that actions have consequences, successfully stalling his battle cry. Galatea returns and reassures Acis of her love.

The two now declare their fidelity to each other, but the jealous Polyphemus interrupts them. He strikes Acis over the head with a painting of rocks and kills him.

The young people mourn his death, and are joined in lamentation by Galatea. They try to comfort her, and remind her that with her divine powers she can ‘save’ Acis. Galatea summons her focus and immortalizes Acis as a beautiful fountain.

Acknowledgements

Boise Baroque:

  • Music Library for Acis & Galatea sponsored by Yvonne McCoy & Garry Wenske
  • Kevin Dixon Payne, theorbo, sponsored by Stephanie Kennedy
  • Housing provided by Edna & Dan Shochat, Robert Franz & Brandon Atkins
  • Boise Philharmonic for use of chairs and music stands

Opera Idaho:

  • Sapphire Room, host of Operatini
  • Destiny McGinley and the Egyptian Theatre Staff
  • Robert Franz sponsored by Phoebe & Fred Boelter
  • Housing and transportation provided by The Grove Hotel, Riverside Hotel, Lyle Pearson, Vicki Kreimeyer
  • Artwork on stage based on photographs by Jiyang Chen, Patrick Gipson and Katie Walker

Katie Walker, whose photography is featured on stage, is a Boise-based landscape photographer currently living in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her Air Force husband and their enormous cat. Originally from New Mexico, she enjoys hiking and backpacking anywhere there are trails to be found – but especially the pristine alpine lakes in the Sawtooth Mountains. Her photography is available for sale through her Etsy shop katieleighwalker or follow her on Instagram @katieleighwalker.