Acis and Galatea

Tue 7 - Thu 16 July 2020

Acis and Galatea

It is with great regret that for the first time in forty years we must cancel the Buxton International Festival in July 2020. This is an enormous disappointment but the health and well-being of our audience, our volunteers, the BIF team and all the artists involved is of primary concern. By taking this difficult decision now we are safeguarding the Festival for the Future. Read our full statement here.

Please save the dates for next year’s Festival taking place 2 – 18 July 2021.

George Frideric Handel (1685 –1759)

A co-production with the Buxton International Festival and the Early Opera Company

Jealousy and devotion lie at the heart of Handel’s adaptation of Ovid’s classic tale of eternal love, Acis and Galatea. The sea nymph Galatea pledges herself to the mortal shepherd, Acis, but their idyllic existence is torn apart when the envious cyclops, Polyphemus, arrives to claim Galatea as his own. While Mount Etna shakes, he crushes Acis to death with a boulder. Reminded of her divine power, Galatea transforms her beloved’s gushing blood into a bubbling spring, the source of the River Aci and the two lovers are reunited forever in the Sicilian sea.

Having already set the story to music in Naples (1708), Handel returned to it with entirely new music for an English masque as an entertainment hosted by the Earl of Carnarvon at his country estate in midsummer 1718. It was his first dramatic work in the English language.

Baroque specialists Christian Curnyn and the Early Opera Company bring this popular dramatic work to Buxton after winning the opera category of the BBC Music Magazine Awards in 2019 for their exquisite recording of Acis and Galatea. Director Martin Constantine has gained five-star reviews for his work with Longborough Festival Opera and Welsh National Opera. His production of Paul Bunyan, for WNO, won an RPS Award and was nominated for a South Bank Sky Arts Award.

Soprano Mary Bevan is a winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist award and UK Critics’ Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent in music and was awarded a MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2019.

Nick Pritchard is a Samling Artist and was recently voted ‘Breakthrough Artist in UK Opera’ in the WhatsOnStage Opera Poll 2017.

Libretto by John Gay. Sung in English with side-titles.

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Creatives & Cast

Christian Curnyn Conductor

Martin Constantine Director

Anisha Fields Designer


Mary Bevan Galatea

Nick Pritchard Acis

Jorge Navarro Colorado Damon/Coridon

Lukas Jakobski Polyphemus

David de Winter Chorus