Introducing... Hipermestra

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Our Introducing series provides additional insights to help you make your choices for Festival 2017.

Hipermestra begins with a King ordering his 50 daughters to kill their 50 husbands on their wedding day. Intrigued? Our short animation tells the story of Cavalli’s compelling opera in just two minutes.

We caught up with director Graham Vick and conductor William Christie to talk about their new production of Cavalli’s Hipermestra.

Below you can watch an interview with William Christie and read more about the production, with insights from Graham Vick.

Need to know

This early Baroque opera is a rare gem. Festival 2017 marks the UK premiere of a piece that has only been performed once since 1680.

‘Cavalli’s theatrical genius gives ravishing sounds to the tale of Hipermestra – one of 50 daughters of Danao. On the day Danao weds his daughters to the 50 sons of his brother, Egyptus, he orders them to murder their husbands on their wedding night. Only Hipermestra fails him – and this is her story.’
—Graham Vick, Director

Why this production?

Hipermestra is the latest in a long line of notable Glyndebourne productions of Baroque operas:

‘Beginning in the early 1960s and enthusiastically supported by George Christie, Baroque works were championed by conductor Raymond Leppard. More recently, conductor William Christie has taken Glyndebourne audiences on a journey through a number of Baroque masterworks, starting with Theodora in 1996.’
—Julia Aries, Glyndebourne Archivist

Following in this tradition of reintroducing works to modern audiences, the Festival 2017 production is the UK premiere of Hipermestra.

Director Graham Vick’s much loved production of Eugene Onegin was last seen in Festival 2014. Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

Cast and creative team

Director Graham Vick makes a long-awaited return to Glyndebourne. His classic productions have included Eugene Onegin (1994), Pelleas et Melisande (1999) and Le nozze di Figaro (2000). Graham explains his long-standing connection with Cavalli:

‘I saw my first Cavalli opera – Ormindo – as a boy of 13 at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool on the first ever tour by Glyndebourne Touring Opera. I paid three shillings and sixpence and was enthralled. I’m so excited at the chance to direct one of these marvellously sophisticated works here at Glyndebourne itself 50 years on.’
—Graham Vick, Director

Since 1996’s Theodora, conductor William Christie has taken audiences on a journey through Baroque opera, encompassing our much loved productions of Giulio Cesare (2005) and The Fairy Queen (2009).

William Christie tells us how he’ll be approaching Hipermestra in this short video:

The International Opera Award-nominated Hungarian soprano Emőke Barath makes her Glyndebourne debut in the title role. In 2011 she won first prize at the International Singing Competition for Baroque Opera.

Emőke is joined by counter-tenor Raffaele Pé and baritone Renato Dolcini.

Familiar faces Ana Quintans (Hippolyte et Aricie, 2013) and Benjamin Hulett (Saul, 2015 and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2016) are also members of the cast.

Hungarian soprano Emőke Barath makes her Glyndebourne debut in the title role

Things to look out for

Hipermestra will be a unique sight to behold, with an immersive set that brings the audience closer to the action and the music.

‘The set will change throughout the opera, with subtle shifts in scale and perspective and recurring elements that will reward close viewing’
—Eric Gautron, Technical Director

The production will feature an intimate ensemble of players and William Christie will conduct from the harpsichord:

‘The musicians will play an assortment of period instruments including the chittarone, archlute, theorbo, harp and lirone.’
—Ian Julier, Senior Librarian

William Christie will make a welcome return to Glyndebourne to conduct Hipermestra. Photo: Mike Hoban

Enrich your experience

Dig deeper into Hipermestra at these extra events for Festival 2017:

Archive Gallery exhibition: Baroque Innovation, 20 May-9 July
Insider talk: Inside an orchestra with the OAE, Sunday 4 June
Pre-performance talk: Friday 9 June
Study event:Hipermestra: Cavalli and opera’s wonder years’, Saturday 8 July

Please also look out for an in-depth interview with Graham Vick and William Christie in the Festival 2017 Programme Book, published in May 2017.

Hipermestra is generously supported by Carol and Paul Collins through Glyndebourne Association America Inc.