The stage is busy as the musicians of the Orchestra of the Antipodes tune their period instruments. Flowers and ladders are brought on, artworks are delivered, and lanyard-wearing staff bustle to and fro. The chaos coalesces into the preparation for a lavish costume gala at an art gallery – a clever framing (pardon the pun) device with which director Crystal Manich binds the three works in Pinchgut Opera’s triple bill.
Channelling the heady and competitive opera scene of Paris in the 1750s, Pinchgut presents two actes-de-balletby French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau – Anacréonand Pigmalion– with the Italian Leonardo Vinci’s comic intermezzo Erighetta e Don Chiloneas a palate cleanser in between.
Rameau’s more serious offerings – in contrast to the Vinci intermezzo – tackle high-brow concepts like the nature of love and reality, drawing on stories of gods to explore deeper philosophical ideas. But Manich manages to inject plenty of earth-bound concerns into Anacréon. Essentially an argument over whether love and intoxication (symbolised by the god Bacchus) can co-exist, in the context of the boozy art gallery event it becomes the story of a man who gets drunk, angering his wife who then leaves him.