Casting Castor & Pollux – Divine vs Mortal at Pinchgut Opera

Bass Baritone Hadleigh Adams secures the role of Pollux for the Pinchgut...

Last month the Pinchgut Opera at Sydney announced some of the Casting of Castor & Pollux, with a little help from Mozart, for their production at Sydney in December 2012.  American Jeffrey Thomson, who has been based in Paris for the past few years, will play Castor. Now they have announced their choice for the role of Pollux, award winning NZ born bass baritone Hadleigh Adams. He is currently studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama at London where he recently won 1st Prize in the Patricia Routledge National English Song Competition. Adams joins a distinguished group of fine musicians who have won before him or are distinguished Alumni of that place. He has performed a number of key opera roles, including Papageno, Aeneas and Figaro and will be attending the prestigious San Francisco Merola Opera program in the middle of 2012, having been selected for this from thousands of applicants. Adams will inject a new voice and and an inspiring presence for emerging opera singers into the Sydney Scene later in the year. The version of the opera on offer in this musical drama will be the 1754 version of Jean-Phillipe Rameau’s work, which was a revision of the 1737 version, which in its day was immediately controversial. The 1754 piece could be considered a ‘retro’ version because it was extremely streamlined and, subsequently become an immediate success. It is now considered one of Rameu’s finest compositions.

Remains Temple Castor & Pollux Sicily

Temples to the twin brothers, Castor and Pollux abounded in the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome. They were the brightest stars in the constellation Gemini and were known as Dioscuri (sons of Zeus). They were both commemorated as Gods on Mt Olympus and, down on earth were summoned to a table laid with food to be entertained. The transmission of the worship of these deities was thought to have been transferred via the Greek colonies, which were established in southern Italy about the middle of the 8th century BC . Interestingly in his Diodoros Sikeliotes, a Greek historian tells us the Celts venerated them as well. He said ‘the Celts who dwell along the ocean venerate gods who resemble our Dioscuri above any of the gods, since they have a tradition handed down from ancient times that these gods came among them from the ocean. Moreover, there are on the ocean shore, they say, many names which are derived from the Argonauts and the Dioscuri’.

Sometimes they appear mortal and sometimes divine. The consistent thing we know about them is that only one of them is immortal. Helpers of mankind the twins aided those who honoured and trusted them, although they were like loose cannons on a deck.

Divine Meissen Porcelain Group of Castor and Pollux, unglazed porcelain, moulded, scantily draped, on a rectangular plinth. In his right hand Castor holds a torch down to a small square altar decorated with rams' heads and pendent floral scrolls. His left arm is raised. Pollux leans on Castor's right shoulder and holds his right hand at waist level. Behind Castor is a small figure of Isis standing on a pedestal. British Museum

They did not have a great record with women – they both fell in love with the same woman, the mortal princess Téläire.  As ill-luck or destino, whatever you would like to call it, Téläire loves only Castor who dies in battle. Distraught Téläire calls on Pollux to intercede with his father and bring Castor back to life. Pollux reluctantly agrees, but Zeus, supreme God or not, cannot override the laws of nature. Castor can return from the dead only if Pollux takes his place.

Pollux shakes off Téläire’s friend Phoebe, who loves him and tries to stop him. She is an amorous schemer. He battles the demons guarding Hades; there he meets Castor, who vows to return to Sparta if only for one day. On seeing Castor, Phoebe – imagining her hopes are dashed for ever kills herself.

Téläire, learning of Castor’s pledge, accuses him of never having loved her. Thank heavens Big Daddy Zeus arrives and resolves the problem by granting immortality to both twins, who take their place in the heavens.

The women’s fate is a bitter one…

It has already been announced that Australian soprano Celeste Lazarenko is singing the role of Téläire. The role of Phébé, the scheming bad girl has now been given to Mezzo Soprano Margaret Plummer,.

Margaret became a full-time member of the Opera Australia chorus and has had a number of roles and covers with Opera Australia (OA), including her debut as the Spirit in Dido and Aeneas with Antony.

She recently was noted as having ‘stood out as an exemplary Flora’ in the OA’s recent brilliant production of La Traviata on Sydney Harbour.

They will all be directed by Kate Gaul, who plans to filter Rameau ‘through a 21st century lens’.

Keeping opera, the music of love and life in the moment is always a challenge for each new production. Gaul declared in the Pinchgut Opera’s May Newsletter that she is happy that she has three spaces to operate in. The world of the gods, Hades (the underworld) and the Heavens.

It will be exciting to see what she comes up with as she responds to the music, and importantly, the cast of singers,  the Opera Chorus Cantillation, and the Conductor Antony Walker interpretation of the 1754 score for the Orchestra of the Antipodes.

Each cast in opera brings their own very different strengths and courage to bear on a performance. Kate Gaul declares that having come to an understanding of the intent of both the librettist and the composer, she will consider all aspects of the opera as she plans this landmark production. Design will no doubt play its part as the Pinchgut team are very much aware of the how important the visual is in providing a backdrop for the original musical instrument, the Voice.  It is only by gaining a synergy of all the elements that will ensure the Pinchgut Opera’s production of Castor & Pollux 2012 will have successful outcome.

City Recital Hall Angel Place

Box Office Opens Monday 23rd July – Mark the date!

Save the Date! Castor & Pollux 2012

Thursday 6 December Performance #1 – 7.30pm

Saturday 8 December Performance #2 – 7.30pm

Sunday 9 December Performance #3 – 5.00 pm

Monday 10 December Performance #4 – 7.30pm

Pinchgut Fundraiser – delicious dining and drama for all!

Wednesday 20 June, 6.30 for 7pm
The Tea Room, Queen Victoria Building
Level 3 North End, 455 George St Sydney

Our Heroes of Pinchgut make our productions possible. Would you like to support Pinchgut and become a Hero? Of course you would… so contact Anna on 02 9389 8117 or [email protected]

Pinchgut Opera
Phone 02 9389 8117
Email [email protected]

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2012

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