The 1651 opera is among Cavalli’s most bawdy, and some have called the work downright raunchy. After 363 years, the edgy opera will no doubt get a fresh, randy spin by Pacific Opera Project, known for turning out delightfully skewed productions.
The work, first staged at Venice’s Teatro Sant ‘Apollinare, is based on the Calisto myth of two pairs of lovers. Among them is the chaste Calisto who unsuccessfully vows to remain a virgin. She wasn't the first. And centuries later, not the last.
Feeling mocked, the gods get involved and cook up some trickery to loosen Calisto's tight girdle. Other demigods, nymphs, satyrs and a few shepherds join the comic romp as heaven and earth mix. Before the opera ends –– spoiler alert! –– Calisto is transformed into a (presumably chaste) bear and spends eternity pinned to a heavenly constellation.
"I think one of the best aspects of POP doing La Calisto is that we really get to 'play’ with this one, which is what we enjoy most,” said POP's Artistic Director Josh Shaw. “There are no known conventions or traditions that we have to adhere to, or blatantly choose to go against. That is very freeing, but also very scary for me as a director. Sometimes it is easier to do a production in the ‘POP style’ when I know there are things (cliches) I want to avoid."
La Calisto’s cast includes soprano Claire Averill (Calisto), baritone Ryan Thorn (Giove), Daria Somers (Giunone), mezzo-soprano Sarah Beaty (Diana), baritone E. Scott Levin (Pane), countertenor Bryan Pollock (Endimione). POP's Music Director is Stephen Karr.
Performances May 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10 at 8 p.m.
For tickets, visit the Pacific Opera Project website ticket page.
Highland Park Ebell Club 131 S. Avenue 57 Los Angeles, CA 90042