Llantilio Crossenny Festival

Handel's Acis and Galatea is not technically an opera but in terms of Llantilio Crossenny Festival's annual commitment to operatic stagings it takes its place as one.

With arts subsidies diverted to the forthcoming Olympic Games, this festival and countless others are struggling.

Undeterred but less ambitious, it has removed from St Teilo’s Church to the nearby Treadam Barn, a stout medieval structure ideally suited to things pastoral.

This is what Acis and Galatea is - a disarmingly simple serenata in which even the giant, Polyphemus, is not to be taken seriously even though he does for the shepherd Acis, who is then transformed by the distraught nymph Galatea into an eternally sustaining fountain.

The conceit of this particular staging, conducted by Stephen Marshall and involving local singers and musicians, is that of a performance put on by the household of one of Handel's early patrons.

It’s a clever approach, as it subsumes shortcomings imagined or real, of which the imbalance of space allotted to cast and orchestra is the most obvious. Still, it was the locals who came to the rescue when professional Rachel Collard was taken ill and choir member Pip Hassall took over the role of the shepherd Damon.

I liked the piping Galatea of Lynn Marie Boudreau, the doting Acis of Peter Wilman and the ferocious-looking 'softie' that was Marcus Hopkin's otherwise murderous Polyphemus. The choir was small but musically compact.

Handel's 'entertainment' doesn't divert us for long, but it's always well to be reminded of how much glorious music it contains, especially when it doesn’t even rest so that the story, such as it is, can be told.

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