Erin Helyard's Welcome to the 2017 Season

It gives me enormous pleasure to inaugurate the 2017 Pinchgut season for you, our audience.

Our fifteenth year marks an important one—I’m delighted to be taking Pinchgut into a new era as sole artistic director.

2017 features two of the greatest opera composers of all time: Monteverdi, the prime innovator of the genre itself, and Rameau, who came to opera late in his life but left an indelible influence. The practice of giving several disparate works was central to the programming of the Académie Royale de Musique (simply called “the Opéra”) in Paris in the mid eighteenth century. Accordingly, our winter season features two exquisite acte de ballets by Rameau together with a contrasting Italian intermezzo by Vinci. This was a common occurrence, to have a contrasting Italian work performed between acte de ballets. Anacréon and Pigmalion have been long recognised as some of Rameau’s best work. They certainly contain some of his most memorable and tuneful ariettes! It was a famous performance of an Italian intermezzo in 1752 at the Opéra that sparked an intense debate about the relative merits of Italian and French music. We revive the intermezzo tradition in the best traditions of the genre of the acte de ballets themselves: which were sparkling, diverting, lyrical genres centred on a short story that revolve around the theme of love and pleasure.

The same theme of love is pursued in our summer season with one of the greatest operas of all time: Monteverdi’s Coronation of Poppea. A towering masterpiece of superbly crafted characterisation, biting satire, and heartbreaking beauty, Poppea will be performed by Pinchgut in the original format first used at the original performance, in which various characters doubled roles. I am looking forward to re-visiting the colours, poetry, and melodies of the seventeenth century – a sound world we haven’t revisited since the enormous critical success of Giasone in 2013. Subscribe now and get ready for rediscovered opera as you've never heard it before!