Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

This opera, which is in five acts and was written by Handel in 1712, was performed on Saturday by the Goethe Theater, Bad Lauchstadt, which is well known throughout Europe for its productions of this composer's operas.

The Georgian setting of the Theatre Royal itself made the stunning performance even more significant. The orchestra of the Lautten Compagney, Berlin, which was cosily nestled in the compact pit beneath the stage, used many of the period instruments that were around at the time this piece was written.

It is an exciting opera and covers many of the facets of life. It is raunchy and even saucy at times, but it added to the subtle humour that appeared throughout. However, it is also very dramatic and emotional, dealing with death and also the tenderness of love running alongside one another.

Handel's distinctive style is generally of a light and joyous nature and, despite the serious theme, the music rose above the occasion.

The lightness of the composition contrasted at times with the intensity of the events on stage. Yet the simple set, consisting of large sliding doors, was effective and at times quite awesome.

The orchestra and cast were simply magnificent and the several curtain calls at the end said it all. As this was the only chosen venue in the UK for this production, the audience was truly privileged to be part of it. This is a taster of future productions at this theatre after its restoration phase.

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