Bampton Classical Opera has announced that its opera for the 2022 season will be Haydn’s Il mondo della luna (The World on the Moon, 1777). The new production will tour venues in Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and London.
With a libretto written by Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni in 1750, Il mondo della luna is a comic fantasy of deception, disguises and true love. It tells the story of the astronomer Ecclitico (a tenor role), who is pursuing the beautiful Clarice (soprano), and his friend the nobleman Ernesto (traditionally a castrato role, but now a trouser role usually sung by a contralto), who is in love with Clarice’s sister Flaminia (soprano).
However, the two young ladies’ over-protective father, Buonafede (baritone), is opposed to both these unions because he is determined that his daughters will make more advantageous matches. He is also growing increasingly suspicious of Ernesto’s servant Cecco (tenor), who has been showing affection towards Clarice and Flaminia’s chambermaid Lisetta (mezzo-soprano), on whom Buonafede has his own designs.
When the young lovers learn that Buonafede has a keen amateur interest in astronomy, they devise a cunning plan to trick the gullible man into permitting the marriages. Together they convince Buonafede that there is a world on the moon and that the Emperor of this lunar landscape has invited him to visit his court. They give him a sleeping draught, telling him it’s a magic potion that will allow him to float up to the moon.
While Buonafede sleeps, dreaming of flying to the moon, the conspirators decorate Ecclitico’s garden so that it appears otherworldly. When Buonafede wakes he finds himself in a world transformed and believes he has arrived on the lunar surface, along with his two daughters and Ecclitico.
Cecco appears disguised as the Emperor of the Moon, with Ernesto dressed as the star Hesperus. As Buonafede is entertained by ballets and masquerades, he is tricked into consenting to the three marriages – but will the weddings take place or will the moonstruck man see through the ruse?
Il mondo della luna will be the third of Haydn’s Goldoni settings to be performed by Bampton Classical Opera, and the company stated that it “has taken particular delight in presenting the rarely performed operas of Haydn to new audiences”.
The production will be sung in a new English translation by Gilly French, joint artistic director of Bampton Classical Opera. Performances are set to be conducted by Thomas Blunt and directed by Jeremy Gray, who is French’s co-artistic director as well as director of production at Bampton.
Three performances will take place over summer 2022. There will be two outdoor events in the garden of the Deanery in Bampton, Oxfordshire, which sees two shows on 22 and 23 July, with one to follow at Westonbirt School in Gloucestershire on 29 August. There will also be an autumn performance at St John’s Smith Square in London; the date for this is yet to be confirmed.
Free talks take place before each performance, introducing the music, themes and historical background of the opera. The talks will be hosted by director Jeremy Gray or guest expert speakers, and usually last about half an hour. Those at Bampton are held in the church next to the Deanery at 4.30pm, while those at Westonbirt are in the school library at 5pm.
Further details of this new production of Il mondo della luna including casting and ticket information, will be announced at a later date. See Bampton Classical Opera’s website for more details.
Bampton Classical Opera’s new production for 2022 is Haydn’s Il mondo della luna, with a new English-language translation by Gilly French and directed by Jeremy Gray.