Bampton Classical Opera celebrate a Gluck anniversary this summer

Christoph Willibald Gluck, Paris and Helen (1770) – 250th anniversary production
The Deanery Garden, Bampton, Oxfordshire: Friday 23, Saturday 24 July
The Orangery Theatre, Westonbirt School, Gloucestershire: Monday 30 August
St John’s Smith Square, London: Friday 24 September
Libretto: Ranieri de’ Calzabigi
English Translation: Gilly French
Director/Designer: Jeremy Gray
Conductor: Thomas Blunt
Orchestra of Bampton Classical Opera (Bampton, Westonbirt)
CHROMA (St John’s Smith Square)
“a work of shining beauty, an exquisite, at moments rapturous outpouring of romantic lyricism with few parallels in 18th-century opera” Max Loppert, Opera Magazine
Following the May performances of Gluck’s The Crown (La corona), in summer 2021 Bampton Classical Opera will present one of Gluck’s major works, Paride ed Elena. These performances have been rescheduled from 2020, which marked 250 years since the opera’s premiere in 1770.  It will be given in a new English translation by Gilly French as Paris and Helen. Despite its significance in Gluck’s canon and its glorious quality, Paris and Helen is very rarely performed and little-known.  Bampton’s St John’s Smith Square performance may be the first-ever London staging. The production will be designed and directed by Jeremy Gray, and the conductor will be Thomas Blunt. Scored for four soprano voices with chorus, and with colourful and exciting orchestration, Bampton’s performances aim to bring this enchanting and sensuous work to new audiences.
Gluck’s extraordinary opera charts the passionate and tempestuous encounter between the legendary Helen and Prince Paris of Troy.  Paris ardently woos her in a sequence of ravishing arias and ensembles, including the exquisite and much-loved O del mio dolce ardor.  Bampton has gathered a wonderful cast including, as always, young professionals who are emerging into significant national and international career.  Singing the massive and expressive role of Paris, is the soprano Ella Taylor, who won second prize in the 2020 Ferrier Awards and is making their professional stage debut.  Opposite them as the feisty Helen is Lucy Anderson, worthy first-prizewinner in the 2019 Bampton Young Singers’ Competition.  Also new to Bampton will be Lauren Lodge-Campbell, causing mischief as Amor, and we’re delighted to welcome back Lisa Howarth as Pallas Athene.
Paris                                        Ella Taylor                  
Helen                                       Lucy Anderson                       
Amor (in disguise as Erasto)    Lauren Lodge-Campbell                                
Pallas Athene                          Lisa Howarth                         
Orchestra of Bampton Classical Opera (Bampton & Westonbirt)
CHROMA (St John’s Smith Square)
Director/designer                   Jeremy Gray
Choreographer                        Alicia Frost
Costume Designer                   Jess Iliff
Lighting                                   Ian Chandler
Translation                               Gilly French
Paris and Helen is the third of the so-called ‘reform’ operas (after Orfeo ed Euridice, and Alceste) in which Gluck collaborated with the librettist Calzabigi to produce a new type of music drama.  As in Orfeo, Gluck’s rejection of Baroque extravagance and ornamentation gives rise to word-setting of extraordinary lyricism.  Set in Homeric Sparta, the Trojan prince Paris arrives to seek out Helen, promised to him by Aphrodite when he chose her as the most beautiful goddess and presented the golden apple.  Despite Helen’s betrothal to Menelaus, Paris attempts to win Helen with passionate declarations of love. Helen is determined to resist despite the immediate impact the stranger makes on her, but, thanks to the persistent and playful strategies of the disguised Amor, she ultimately succumbs.  In an exciting dea ex macchina appearance Pallas Athene sternly warns of the fatal consequences of their illicit love, but her words are unheeded as the entranced lovers depart for Troy.
These performances of Paris and Helen follow Bampton’s exploration in recent years of the neglected shorter operas of Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714-1787) as well as those of his renowned protégé Antonio Salieri.  Amongst several Gluck works performed have been Il Parnaso confuso and Bauci e Filemone (believed UK premières) and in May this year the one-act opera The Crown (La corona). Bampton Classical Opera is proud to add this major work to its already extensive Gluck repertoire.
Bampton Classical Opera, a finalist in the recent 2020 International Opera Awards, enjoys a national reputation for its passionate and enlightened discoveries of rare late 18th-century operas, sung in lively new translations.  Amongst these have been UK premières of Bertoni Orfeo, Isouard Cendrillon, Marcos Portugal The Marriage of Figaro, Paer Leonora, Benda Romeo and Juliet, Gluck Il Parnaso confusoBauci e Philemon and Salieri Falstaff.   The company works with some of the finest emerging young professional singers and stages productions in rural venues in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire as well as regularly in London at St John’s Smith Square.  Other significant venues and festivals have included Wigmore Hall and Purcell Room, Buxton Festival, Cheltenham Festival and Theatre Royal Bath.  Bampton Classical Opera encourages a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, and with ticket prices being excellent value, their performances provide an ideal introduction to anyone unaccustomed to opera.
The delightful Deanery Garden at Bampton provides a charming and picturesque venue for open-air opera, with an excellent natural acoustic.  Westonbirt School is a spectacular Victorian mansion, with extensive Grade I listed gardens: the performances take place in the Orangery Theatre.  Audiences are encouraged to bring their own garden chairs to Bampton and enjoy a pre-performance or interval picnic.
St John’s Smith Square is the most historic of London’s concert halls and provides an outstanding and appropriately eighteenth-century setting for this performance. 
2021 performances will follow current government Covid regulations; please be aware that some restrictions may apply. 
Paris & Helen performances, with free pre-performance talks:                   
The Deanery Garden, Bampton OX18 2LL
7.00 pm Friday 23 and Saturday 24 July
The Orangery Theatre, Westonbirt School, near Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL8 8QG
6.00 pm Monday 30 August
St John’s Smith Square, London SW1P 3HA
7.00 pm Friday 24 September
Booking Information, Bampton and Westonbirt
Tickets: £40 (under 18: half-price)
By Telephone: 01993 851142
Booking information, St John’s Smith Square
Tickets: £18, £28, £40.  Booking opens in July
By Telephone: 020 7222 1061