Composed and first performed in 1768, The Apothecary – or Lo speziale – is one of Haydn’s earliest surviving operas. Oxfordshire-based Bampton Classical Opera will present a revival of a 2015 production directed by Jeremy Gray at The Barn at Old Walland, Wadhurst, East Sussex, on 9 September.

The plot of this three-act comic opera revolves around Sempronio, an old and work-shy apothecary. He is determined to marry his ward, the lovely Grilletta, mostly to get his hands on her equally attractive inheritance. However, he has two rivals for her hand.

The first is Mengone, Sempronio’s apprentice, who is in love with Grilletta and with whom she is in love. Unfortunately he is reluctant to pursue his feelings for fear of losing his job. The foppish, rich young dandy Volpino also wants Grilletta for himself, and he is prepared to lie and cheat to get his way.

British tenor Guy Beynon plays the part of Sempronio, with British soprano Iúnó Connolly as his ward and pupil Grilletta. British tenor Henry Ross sings the apprentice Mengone and British soprano Madeline Robinson is Volpino, in a trouser role.

Mark Austin conducts the Orchestra of Bampton Classical Opera. The production uses an English-language translation by John Warrack, based on the original libretto by Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni.

In The Apothecary, Goldoni demonstrates his belief that “comedy was created to correct vice and ridicule bad behaviour”. Haydn exploits the satire with characteristic wit and colour, and feasts on the comic potential of the four entangled characters.

Part of Bampton Classical Opera’s 30th anniversary celebrations, this performance of The Apothecary takes place at The Barn at Old Walland, Wadhurst, East Sussex, at 7pm on 9 September. Tickets are on sale now and cost £75, including a donation to Sussex Heart Charity.

Bampton Classical Opera has taken a lead in presenting Haydn’s neglected operas to new audiences and has staged six with great success, including last season’s much-praised production of Fool Moon (Il mondo della luna, 1777). The Apothecary is one of the composer’s earliest surviving performable operas. With its simple but witty plot, the opera demonstrates the composer’s delight in exploring bizarre situations and creating affectionately humorous music.



Bampton Classical Opera is set to present a performance of Haydn’s comic opera The Apothecary at The Barn at Old Walland, Wadhurst, East Sussex, on 9 September.