Help us record Handel's 'Acis and Galatea'

Early Opera Company makes a new CD recording of Handel's exquisite opera "Acis and Galatea" - a heart-warming story of transformation.

We did it!

On 25th Aug 2017 we successfully raised £10,590 of £10,000 target with 117 supporters in 56 days

New stretch target

Thank you!   It's so good to know that so many people have backed our ambition to record this glorious music. Please keep sharing and supporting Early Opera Company to bring more outstanding baroque music to more people. 

We will carefully use any additional money raised for our Emerging Musicians Programme.  This provides coherent support for a new generation of young singers and instrumentalists who are on the cusp of establishing major careers in the operatic world.  To date, we have been able to support emerging singers with this programme, but we want to expand it to help instrumentalists to take their next professional step as well. 

Over the past 23 years, Early Opera Company has given leading roles to young singers in prestigious settings including Wigmore Hall, St John’s Smith Square and leading festivals including Spitalfields and York Early Music Festival.  

Often, that opportunity has come at a crucial point in their career, helping to catapault them from a jobbing singer into the limelight of a major career. International mezzo-soprano, Christine Rice is just one example of a singer whose career Early Opera Company has helped to transform. Christine now regularly performs leading roles in Europe’s leading opera houses including Covent Garden, the Bavarian State Opera, the Frankurt Opera, the Teatro Real and English National Opera. She writes:

"Right at the very beginning of my career, I was given the opportunity by Early Opera Company to sing Polinesso in a staged performance of Ariodante at Covent Garden Festival. It was one of my very first professional opera jobs, my first Handel opera, the first time I discovered how to sing coloratura, the first time I was reviewed in the national papers (I seem to remember them liking how I ate a peach!) and the first, but fortunately not the last, time I worked with Christian Curnyn. A career is made with small steps every day. No one is ever really an overnight success and such an experience for a young singer is immeasurably invaluable.” Christine Rice, mezzo-soprano

Other notable soloists who have performed with the company in the early stages of their careers include Claire Booth, Sophie Bevan, Lucy Crowe, Iestyn Davies, Andrew Foster Williams and Lawrence Zazzo.

Benefits of our Emerging Musicians Programme

EOC’s musical director is internationally renowned conductor, Christian Curnyn, who has the opportunity to hear singers and instrumentalists he works with  other opera houses and bring them into the EOC stable. 

EOC performs in renowned venues and established festivals, which provide access for emerging musicians to be heard by their audiences and donors and be mentioned in major press reviews.

EOC performances are often broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

EOC provides an opportunity to explore new repertoire, often in concert performances, which can then be available in the musicians’ portfolios in preparation for staged performances elsewhere.

Associations with major opera festivals and opera houses can lead to further engagements.

Associations with non-standard venues, eg Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, The Roundhouse, Almeida Theatre, provide unusual performance experience and access to new audiences.

EOC treats all artists on the Emerging Musicians Programme in the same way as more established singers with the same fee structure rather than reduced rates.

EOC is a growing and developing organisation, with high-profile partnerships which make an engagement with us a prestigious opportunity for these musicians. We have been nominated for an Olivier Award (2015), and have received BBC Music Magazine Award (2013) and Gramophone Editor’s Choice (2013).

"EOC has been a constant for me throughout the different stages of my developing career, starting with chorus work… More recently, Christian and EOC helped me up to the next step with some fantastic solo work, giving me my Iford Arts debut as Telemaco in The Return of Ulysses, my Wigmore Hall debut in King Arthur and my solo debut at the Spitalfields Music Summer Festival in a concert of Monteverdi madrigals and Rossi Oratorio.  EOC has played a significant role in my development and increasing professional experience." Nick Pritchard, tenor


New CD recording of Handel's Acis and Galatea

Early Opera Company is an award-winning arts charity, dedicated to making baroque music relevant and indispensable in today's world. 

We have been waiting 5 years to record this extraordinary music with such a distinguished cast who are at the top of their game. Finally, the phenomenally busy schedules of conductor Christian Curnyn, soprano Lucy Crowe, tenors Allan Clayton and Benjamin Hulett and bass-baritone Neal Davies have aligned, and we're off...

Over 5 intensive days in November 2017, the 5 singers, 14 instrumentalists and Christian Curnyn (who is directing from the harpsichord) will come together with Chandos' world-class producer and engineer in the perfect acoustic of our favourite recording space in north London.  Mics are set, balance achieved, the red light gleams.... 

There's only one thing missing: YOU!

You can be part of the story too. We've already raised well over half of the total budget. This crowdfunder offers all sorts of fabulous rewards to raise the final £10,000 to make this recording the best it can be. This is where you come in. Please join others to make a donation and pledge your support.

Take a look at the personal rewards we've lined up for you - you can be there in the control room as each aria shines out, each recitative explores the story, and as the singers blend together in the exhilarating choruses. You can have your own signed CD, join friends and the musicians at the CD launch party,  support a particular instrument or role, join us for dinner or even host a concert in your own home.

  Clockwise from top L: Allan Clayton/Acis; Lucy Crowe/Galatea; Benjamin Hulett/ Damon; Christian Curnyn/conductor; Neal Davies /Polyphemus.

What makes us so sure that it will be brilliant?

This new CD recording will be released on Chandos Record's early music label Chaconne in 2018, 300 years since the very first performance of Handel's Acis and Galatea. It's exquisite music, and has been our most frequently requested performance over the last few years - we've performed it to enthusiastic crowds all over UK and Ireland over the last few years, and now we can finally commit it to disc. 

“…the cream of today’s young Handelians. The Early Opera Company has a style all its own, characterized by vibrant, fervently committed execution… this is the band you want to hear in this music…"   Music OMH review of our Acis and Galatea performance at Wigmore Hall.

We don't like to boast, but our previous CD recordings on Chandos have won a BBC Music Magazine Award (2013 Opera Award for Handel 'Alceste', also featuring Lucy Crowe and Benjamin Hulett as well as Andrew Foster-Williams), Gramophone 'Editors Choice' awards and 5 star reviews in national papers.

      Early Opera Company recording Handel's Serse.

Why do we need your help now?

We have already raised well over half of the total project budget from Chandos Records and a generous EOC backer. Now we need to raise the final £10,000. It's a big challenge, but we know we can do it together. Your support will be used to pay the 20 musicians for 5 days of rehearsal and recording sessions, rehearsal space and harpsichord hire.  Chandos are providing the venue, equipment and production and engineering expertise. The end result will be an outstanding recording which Chandos will release, promote and distribute world-wide in 2018. Please join many others to make this recording the best it can be. Thank you!

If we are successful and hit our target, let's not stop there.  Any further money raised will be dedicated to Early Opera Company's Emerging Musicians Programme. This provides coherent support for a new generation of young singers and instrumentalists who are on the cusp of establishing major careers in the operatic world.  

      Thank you, from the Early Opera Company musicians.

Your passion, our music, we can make this happen together!

You can choose from some tip top rewards too.  Whether you're already passionate about early music, want to have a signed copy of the CD, intrigued to see how a recording is made, want to dine out with some of our leading musicians or fancy a bespoke concert in your own home, take a look at the rewards on offer. 

Some rewards are 'first come first served' as there are limited quantities available - will you be the first to pledge £500 and have your pick of supporting one of the major roles in the recording?  Just think: your name would be forever linked with the divine Galatea, the powerful Polyphemus or the brave Acis.

      Lucy Crowe sings Galatea; Neal Davies sings Polyphemus; Allan Clayton sings Acis.

Acis and Galatea - a story of love and transformation

The story of Acis and Galatea is taken from Book XIII of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and tells of the doomed love of the shepherd Acis, and the sea-nymph Galatea. The initial pastoral idyll is shattered by the arrival of the one-eyed giant Polyphemus, who demands Galatea for himself. Despite warnings, Acis refuses to yield, and is subsequently crushed to death by the giant. The grief-stricken Galatea uses her divine powers to transform his shattered body into a stream, thus granting him immortality. 

The libretto's superbly evocative portrayal of the story, is at once restrained, economical, and deeply moving. We perform the music with five singers who take on the roles as well as the magnificent choruses, as Handel himself specified in the autograph of the manuscript. Performed in this way, with the protagonists as commentators on their own destiny, the work assumes an intimacy and intensity that confirms Acis and Galatea as one of Handel’s most sublime creations.

Want to find out more?  There's a wonderful description of Acis and Galatea on the Handel & Hendrix in London website here.

"As the drama swiftly unfolded, the stream of glorious melodies rang forth one after the other, spanning the full dramatic gamut from elation to despair, from fury to resignation." Opera Today, review of our Acis and Galatea performance at Wigmore Hall.

      Early Opera Company on stage at Wigmore Hall, directed from the harpsichord by Christian Curnyn

Early Opera Company - our history and our future

Since Christian Curnyn founded Early Opera Company 23 years ago, we've built up an extraordinarily talented and devoted group of musicians, who perform early music with flair and fervently committed playing. We are both highly-experienced professional musicians and, quite simply, a group of friends whose style of playing brings the heart of this inspiring music to a wider audience. We love what we do and we want you to hear it.

This was a concert to be treasured... The Early Opera Company's sparkling concert performance was a tonic... The company celebrates Handel's animation to perfection.” The Observer, review of our Acis and Galatea performance at Wigmore Hall.

Lucy Crowe (Galatea) performs regularly at major opera houses all over the world and we're proud to have recorded with her before on AlcesteAllan Clayton (Acis) is in hot demand as a tenor at many international opera houses and has been awarded "The Queen's Commendation for Excellence". Benjamin Hulett (Damon) has a fast growing reputation on the concert platform and opera stage throughout Europe and can also be heard on our Alceste CD. Neal Davies (Polyphemus) is an award-winning singer with an outstanding discography and his bass-baritone voice is perfect for this role. 

"Find anything exciting happening in period opera in the UK and Curnyn will be involved." The Spectator

Christian Curnyn is the brains and musical inspiration behind all this. Equally at home with Early Opera Company and in opera houses all over Europe, his dynamic conducting and forensic focus on the drama of the music brings the best out of every musician he works with.  His commitment to uncovering little-known corners of baroque music is a driving force in the early music world.

Over the last few years, Early Opera Company has worked with The Royal Opera on 3 major staged operas, resulting in an Olivier Award nomination in 2015 for Outstanding Achievement in Opera. We'll be returning to The Roundhouse with The Royal Opera in January 2018 as the orchestra for Monteverdi's The Return of Ulysses too.

 
We perform regularly at some of the finest concert venues and festivals in the UK and beyond, including Wigmore Hall (Handel Alceste, La Resurrezione and Messiah and Purcell King Arthur), St John's Smith Square  (Handel Serse, Rameau Castor et Pollux and Platée), as well as London Festival of Baroque Music, York Early Music Festival, Almeida Theatre's Greeks Festival and Salisbury, Oundle, Spitalfields and Kilkenny Festivals.

We have worked with Wigmore Learning and Spitalfields Music to create and perform music with community groups and schools, including an abridged version of Purcell King Arthur for family and school audiences, a newly-crafted community opera by Alasdair Nicholson Re-imagining King Arthur and a Vivaldi programme with Women Sing East.

Our previous recordings have won awards, including BBC Music Magazine Opera Award and numerous Gramophone 'Editors Choice' and 5 star reviews. Handel opera recordings on Chandos include Serse, Alceste, Partenope, Semele and Flavio, as well as a Wigmore Live recording of Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno.

“Curnyn’s choral and orchestral forces are on sparkling form, the disc offers more than an hour of Handelian delight." The Sunday Times – CD of the Week (Handel Alceste)

You can hear us live over the next few months in a varied selection of events:  Handel Giulio Cesare in Egitto for Kilkenny Festival on 11 August with Iestyn Davies in the title role, a seasonal performance of Charpentier Messe de Minuit and Te Deum at Wigmore Hall on 8 December and as the orchestra for 8 performances of The Royal Opera production of Monteverdi The Return of Ulysses at The Roundhouse in January 2018.

To find out more, take a look at www.earlyopera.com  and join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

This isn't the end of the story, help us uncover more jewels of baroque music and bring them to a wider audience. Join us on our journey.

Be the difference to make this recording the best it can be!

This is the first crowd-funding project which we've embarked upon.  Please help to make it a success. Thank you!

Pledge your donation, choose your rewards, spread the word.  Who else can you tell? Who else would love to hear this music? Who else can make the difference?  We're nearly there!

If you would like to pledge with a charity cheque instead of online, please do get in touch: info@earlyopera.com

Huge thanks for their support in preparing this crowdfunder and the video also go to: Chandos Records, Jonathan Crane, Lucy Crowe, Christian Curnyn, Jo Gipps, Marcus Gipps, and Handel & Hendrix in London . Photo credits: Marco Borggreve, Charlotte Burke, Chansonette, Gerard Collett, Stephen Cummisky, Hans Lebbe, Phil Poynter and  Sue Revill.


Got an idea like this?

Start your Crowdfunder