Bampton Classical Opera's summer opera is Salieri's La Grotta di Trofonio featuring bewildered lovers and a capricious wizard
Two operas by Antonio Salieri in the same summer (see also New Chamber Opera’s La Locandiera) - perhaps the moment is right for him to step out of Mozart’s shadow. His work was extraordinarily popular in his lifetime and productions of his operas are not uncommon around Europe. But until this summer Bampton have been pretty much the only UK company reviving him (they mounted a Falstaff in 2004). His comedy La Grotta di Trofonio has been performed in Europe several times in recent years and can be seen in Naples this winter. And you can see why; it’s a lighthearted comedy and a pleasant variation on popular themes. But this will be its first UK performance in modern times.
We are used to alarms and confusions in 18th century comedies– usually they resolve romantic tensions caused by uncooperative parents or guardians, jealous lovers and hidden identities. This one is a little different with a happy family, appropriate suitors and two weddings pending. The local wizard Trofonio, perhaps rather bored, has some fun by luring the betrothed into his magic grotto which has the power to turn people’s personalities into their opposites. Fortunately the parent in the case, engaged in trying to organise the wedding reception, is a sensible man who manages to retain some hold on the increasingly bizarre proceedings.
Bampton Classical Opera’s summer production of Salieri’s La Grotta di Trofonio opens in the Deanery Garden, Bampton, on July 17 for two performances and then moves to Westonbirt in August and St John’s Smith Square, London in September.