Handel's "Acis and Galatea" will be performed Oct. 17 as part of the Kennedy Center's Sixth Annual Handel Festival, not Oct. 8 as reported in a story in Wednesday's Style section.
"We will not shoot off fireworks in the Kennedy Center," conductor Stephen Simon solemnly promised. "They have not yet installed a retractable roof." Sitting next to him, Marta Istomin, artistic director of the Kennedy Center, looked relieved.
They were at a long conference table in the Kennedy Center's South Opera Lounge, announcing the events of the sixth annual Handel Festival, which will climax on May 8 with a performance of the Royal Fireworks Music "in its original instrumentation," which was performed with fireworks in London on the eve of last month's royal wedding. The Kennedy Center performance will omit the climax of Handel's original performance, a disastrous fire caused by the fireworks, but otherwise it will try to duplicate the sound of the premiere, which must have been rather unusual, with nearly 60 extra brass and woodwind instruments. "Steve," asked Charles Farbstein, president of the Friends of Handel who sponsor the annual series, "where will you get 24 oboes?" "Are you up to lesson three yet, where it tells you how to cut a reed?" Simon replied. Then he added that an intensive search for oboes is underway, and the military bands in the Washington area may come to the aid of Handel.
The Royal Fireworks will be part of "Hallelujah Handel," also affectionately known as "Handel's Greatest Hits," the final program in the series. Last year's concert of the same name was the most successful in the series with a standing-room audience. It will also feature an organ concerto, yet to be selected, with Norman Scribner as soloist.
The other two performances in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall promise to be only slightly less spectacular in Simon's preview. First, on Oct. 8, will be a concert performance of "Acis and Galatea," a pastoral-comic opera featuring the Cyclops Polyphemus from Homer's "Odyssey," which was Handel's most popular work during his lifetime. This will include Henry Price and Lorna Haywood in the title roles and Ezio Flagello in the buffo role of the Cyclops. There will be no altos or violas, because the duke of Chandos, for whom Handel wrote the little opera, did not like them.
On April 17, Simon said, the festival will go "from a chamber opera to a blockbuster with 'Israel in Egypt.' Presumably, historically, that will not have happened by then."
"Israel in Egypt" is Handel's choral extravaganza, in which the chorus, representing the people of Israel, is given some of the composer's most dramatic and elaborate music. Choral music in this performance will be sung by the Westminster Choir, with soprano Linda Mabbs and tenor Seth McCoy among the soloists.
This season, the Handel Festival Orchestra will give two performances in the Terrace Theater, Feb. 27 and March 6. One of these will feature concertmaster Jody Gatwood in a Tartini violin concerto in D, which will later be recorded with the G-minor concerto he performed earlier this year.