Francesco Cavalli was top of the pops in the 17th century. His Giasone, which premiered in 1649, was performed more times than any other opera during that century and Pinchgut’s terrific production in 2013 made a great case for it in this age too. The company hits the jackpot again with Cavalli’s The Loves of Apollo & Dafne, written for Venice’s first commercial opera theatre, Teatro San Cassiano.

Max Riebl as Cephalo and Alexandra Oomens as Aurora in Pinchgut Opera’s The Loves of Apollo & Dafne. Photograph © Brett Boardman

One can imagine the Venetian public thoroughly enjoying the tale of gods behaving badly and love gone wrong, set to an unfailingly tuneful score. Apollo & Dafneisn’t as dramatically exciting as Giasone, nor does it have as many musical highlights (it was only Cavalli’s second shot at the genre) but it has the advantage of a libretto by Giovanni Francesco Busenello that makes even the most  commonplace thoughts take wing. Busenello places his tangle of romances and desires in a dream world where anything could be possible. His characters are shape-shifters,...