Wayne McGregor’s production is a rare opportunity to appreciate the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet at the same time.
Showcased alongside McGregor’s take on Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in 2009, his production of Acis and Galatea cleverly combines Handel’s beautiful fluid music with some wonderful choreography particularly in the opening section.
There is much to be enjoyed about this lively production – such as the way the dancers of the Royal Ballet manage to reflect their singer counterparts effectively. This can be seen through Lauren Cuthbertson’s youthful and joyful movements that more than match Danielle de Niese’s exuberant joy and richly enticing vocals that really bring the character to life.
The choreography throughout is suitably energetic, while the performances from the singers such as Charles Workman as Acis and Matthew Rose as Polyphemus has plenty of personality to command attention from the audience.
This alongside the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s energetic and rousing performance under conductor Christopher Hogwood really makes the production shine.
However, this being said it feels as though this take of the Greek mythological tale is lacking in focus that can make it difficult to concentrate on what is unfolding – particularly in the final thirty minutes which don’t seem to be filled with as much theatricality as it could when Polyphemus’s jealousy takes hold. It also can come across as though there is very little in the plot to capture the imagination and to captivate the audience thoroughly.
There is no denying that this was an ambitious thing to do and there are elements in which it really works but it is difficult to shake off the feeling that ideas run out of steam before the very end.
Overall, it is a bit of a mixed bag of a production despite its good intentions. However, the orchestra and performances from both the Royal Ballet and singers do manage to lift the production.
By Emma Clarendon
Acis and galatea is available to watch through the Royal Opera House’s Youtube channel.