An opera set in a heightened contemporary world somewhere between Egypt and Las Vegas, Orontea by Cesti is a guaranteed, pleasure-filled romp.
Despite renouncing love, Queen Orontea finds herself falling for a handsome refugee artist, Alidoro, only to discover that she has most of the women in her court as rivals. Add to the mix her moralistic councillor Creonte, the scheming courtesan Silandra, and the maidservant Giacinta, who disguises herself as a boy – only to accidentally inspire the affections of Alidoro’s lascivious mother, Aristea.
Orontea features an artfully assembled cast led by stunning soprano Anna Dowsley – star of the film A Delicate Fire – together with Pinchgut fan-favourites David Greco, Dominica Matthews and Andrew O’Connor. New Zealand tenor Jonathan Abernathy joins American soprano Sofia Troncoso in their Pinchgut opera debuts.
Musical heir to Monteverdi and a younger contemporary of Cavalli, Cesti was one of the most popular composers of the 17th century. When it premiered in 1656, Orontea immediately captured the public’s attention through its brilliant and skilful combination of poetry and music.