Erin Helyard and I had such an extraordinary time with the last Vivaldi opera we did together, Griselda , that we were looking for another to do. There’s obviously quite a number of operas by Vivaldi so we were looking at a range of options, but Farnacereally fascinated us.
Jacqueline Dark, Helen Sherman and Taryn Fiebig star in Pinchgut Opera’s Farnace. Photo © Marnya Rothe
There’s no question, it’s Vivaldi at the height of his career, it’s a late work which premiered in 1727, and it’s possibly even the last opera that he worked on. It’s a very mature piece and I think that interplay of such ravishing rhythms and melodies with this very extreme, human situation really fascinated us. I wasn’t aware of the opera before coming across it, but I was completely struck by its premise.
I suppose what you would call the inciting incident, or the provocation of the piece, is when Farnace tells his wife Tamiri that should they lose the war, rather than suffer humiliation and torture at the hands of their captors, she should take her own life and kill their son. I...