CONGRATULATIONS to our musical director, Nicholas Gardiner, for introducing us to this little known Handel opera, writes Christina Siviter.

The Dawlish Choral Society’s Summer concert was certainly something different!

The audience left St Gregory’s with the tunes ringing in their ears, bouncy dances of the nymphs and swains, gentle romantic counselling, and the fury of the giant’s jealousy. We were amazed at Handel’s variety and imagination.

As promised, a change from the usual black-and-white choral dress, all turned out in sweet and charming summer pastels, echoing the cameo role of Alison Eden, ‘for us unfolds the rose’.

Sadly, Carmen Lasok, who was to have sung the starring role of Galatea, was unwell, but we were so grateful to Catherine Luke who stood in with her magnificent voice and delivery, ranging from the constancy of cooing doves to the joy of ‘Happy we’.

Her lover Acis, sung by Leslie Baker, wooed her with tender sensitivity, with ‘Love in her eyes sits playing’.

He followed the advice of his friend, Damon, sung by Michael Smith – complete with shepherd’s crook – in ‘Softly, kindly, gently treat her’.

The choir gave us fair warning of the tragedy to come, with ‘Wretched Lovers’ whom the Fates had decreed should meet with heartbreak, and then the pounding terror of ‘Behold, the monster Polypheme!’

The highlight of the second half was undoubtedly Ian Spackman’s giant Cyclops, ranting and raging at Acis, and finally bashing in his head with a great rock.

The choir consoled Galatea with gentle mourning, while she used her divine powers to change the body of Acis into a softly murmuring stream. Pure theatre! as the shepherdesses drew a long, long train of blue chiffon down the church aisle.

The instrumental ensemble, led by Sophie Jesson, was directed from the keyboard by Nicholas Gardiner, using the harpsichord setting, which gave a period flavour to Handel’s work. Of all the pieces, the flute and piccolo of Ruth Molins delighted with the birdsong of the ‘pretty warbling choir’.

The Rowcroft Hospice laid on tea and biscuits at the interval. The concert was in support of them, and with this and the raffle, we raised £103 So many thanks to all those who helped to make this possible.

Our Autumn Concert will be Mozart’s “Coronation Mass”. Rehearsals will be on Monday nights at The Manor. If you enjoyed our concert, why not join our choir for this? We are a welcoming group, and encourage new members. Contact our Chairman, Ailsa Spackman, on 01626 891584.