Rather than going silent, ENO turns to other venues, including its rehearsal space in West Hampstead, Lilian Baylis House.
The studio look and atmosphere suit Handel’s Acis and Galatea. Originally performed in 1718 in a vast mansion in Edgware, it’s nevertheless a chamber piece: four soloists, a modest chorus and tiny orchestra, here playing friskily for conductor Nicholas Ansdell-Evans. Drawing on Greek mythology, Handel fashioned a sophisticated piece that balances delightfully between gentle satire, sly bathos and genuine pathos.
There’s no point in trying to replicate the original production, so Sarah Tipple’s new staging goes contemporary, setting the action at the end-of-the-financial-year party of a tech company. It works well enough, but the inevitable appearance of mobile phones and the endless swigging of beer from bottles eventually become tiresome. Still, Tipple’s cast performs with close attention to dramatic detail and an abundant supply of energy.
The young soloists are excellent, particularly the men: as the headstrong Acis and his more thoughtful sidekick Damon, tenors Alexander Sprague and Bradley Smith are in ringingly good voice, while Matthew Durkan finds real tenderness in the role of Polyphemus.
Until June 16 (020 7845 9300, eno.org)