Il Parnaso confuso



Christoph Willibald Gluck

Il Parnaso confuso (UK premiere)
Azione teatrale in one act
Libretto by Pietro Metastasio
English translation by Gilly French

The Deanery garden, Bampton: 18, 19 July 2014
The Barn at Bury Court: 12 August 2014
Westonbirt School: 25 August 2014
St John's, Smith Square: 16 September 2014


Apollo Aoife O'Sullivan
Melpomene Gwawr Edwards
Erato Anna Starushkevych
Euterpe Caryl Hughes                                                    
Conductor Thomas Blunt
Director Jeremy Gray




Gluck is renowned for Orfeo ed Euridice but his numerous smaller stage works unaccountably remain little known.  Bampton Classical Opera has already presented Le Cinesi and La danza and in June 2011 gave the UK concert première of Gluck's Il Parnaso confuso, a one-act opera of ravishing beauty, at the Purcell Room, London.  Setting a charming libretto by Pietro Metastasio, this lyrical and gentle comedy of Olympian manners was composed in 1765 as a wedding opera for the Hapsburg Archduke Joseph, and sung by four Archduchesses, all children of the Empress Maria Theresa.

On the snow-capped peaks of Mount Parnassus, three delectable Muses - Euterpe (Music), Erato (Lyric Poetry) and Melpomene (Tragedy) - are thrilled to learn from Apollo that their artistic inspiration is required to grace the wedding of the Emperor.  But excitement turns to despair when they hear that the wedding is to be the next day - it really is unreasonable to be expected to conjure up high art with such unseemly haste.  Apollo leaves them to argue the issues out amongst themselves, but when he returns little progress appears to have been made.  The situation could not be worse - the Emperor has brought forward the wedding, and it has already happened.  What will be said if the Muses don't make an appearance at the reception?  They'll just have to put aside their pride and artistic scruples and get on with it....


Rare gems shine bright
The Oxford Times, 24 July 2014


Rare gems shine bright

The Oxford Times, 24 July 2014

Birthday boy Gluck is largely ignored this year - in the UK, at least - with few apparently interested in the Austrian composer's 300th anniversary.

Step forward adventurous Bampton Classical Opera, who are not only marking the occasion but have chosen to do so by giving the first UK staging of his little-known gem, Il Parnaso confuso (The Muses confused), and teaming it with Venetian composer Bertoni's Orfeo - a work that uses the same libretto as Gluck's more famous version.

Renowned for unearthing operatic rarities, Bampton Opera founders Jeremy Gray and Gilly French have produced some delightful treats on the Deanery's secluded lawns over the years.  This year's offering possibly ranks among the best, with two charming pieces that complement each other and benefit from Gray's slick, unfussy direction and a simple set that ingeniously adapts for both operas.

Most excitingly, there is fine young talent mixed in with some of the favourites.  Mezzo Anna Starushkevych, winner of Bampton's inaugural Young Singers' Competition last year, impressed, switching easily from a playful Muse in Il Parnaso confuso to an anguished, lovelorn Orfeo in the Bertoni piece, singing both with equal warmth and conviction.

Soprano Aoife O'Sullivan, a Bampton regular, is equally impressive in the transition from Apollo, who has to cajole the Muses into entertaining for a Royal wedding in Il Parnaso confuso, to a sweetly-sung, velnerable Euridice in Orfeo.

Strong performances, too, from another Bampton regular, Caryl Hughes, and newcomer Gwawr Edwards, as the other Muses, while Thomas Herford and Robert Gildon provide robust support in Orfeo.

The Bampton orchestra, as ever, accompanies with spirit and commitment under the baton of Thomas Blunt


Nicola Lisle


Production Photos