Festival Baroque Australia showcases local and national talent in a rare Handel opera.

In Sara Macliver’s latest operatic role, her character “feigns madness and calls upon the gods” to help her choose between two suitors – a heartbreaking choice between love and duty. “Rosmene knows that whatever her choice, she will destroy someone’s happiness,” the soprano explains.

It’s not an unusual predicament for an operatic heroine, but a modern-day performance of Handel’s Imeneo certainly is an unusual occurrence. And – lo and behold – here it is headlining the Festival Baroque Australia and featuring Perth-born artists Macliver, Fiona Campbell and music director Aaron Carpenè.

Macliver declares the music every bit as “divine” as Handel’s more popular operas; she and her castmates speculate that its bizarre plot is in part responsible for keeping this 1740 rarity lurking in the shadows. “The rather unsexy ending probably has something to do with it,” says soprano Jane Sheldon, who will perform the role of Clomiri. “Rosmene choosing duty over passion seems decidedly un-operatic!

“Handel mostly tends to ensure that things end well for his characters, but in this work he leaves three of the four lovers unhappy at the end. It’s a...