La Calisto

17/09/1987 – 26/09/1987

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Cavalli, Francesco (libretto by Giovanni Faustini), Maureen McCarthy adapt Noelle Janacewska

A Baroque opera first performed in Venice in 1851 and a witty and masterful comedy based on two famous Greek myths – the seduction of Calisto by Jupiter, and the romance between Diana and Endymion. The two myths are combined through the music of Cavalli and the poetry of Faustini to form a satire on the hypocrisy and lechery of the god and the world they supposedly control – lust, deception and cruelty. Programme notes describe performance as “baroque lechery meets Edwardian concupiscence in Jupiter’s maze”. Kosky “transposed the 17th century opera into an Edwardian thriller/comedy/drama” (Romney review cited below). This was a four-piece ensemble with a Fellini-esque style set in an Edwardian environment. Diana and her virgins returning from the hunt become schoolgirls at tennis, Pan as a D.H. Lawrence stable-master, satyrs as school-boys. This was the Australian premiere of the opera. The set included an English garden maze. The actors cross-dressed. Kosky: “We wrench the audience into a once-off cosmic experience…this very funny, frivolous and luxurious dabble with the gods, with all its ethereal splendour, is violently pared back. We want to leave audiences with a very strong sense of the tragic human dimension.” Interviewer: “‘La Calisto’ is said to combine the sweeping cosmic scope of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ with the steamy sexuality of a Fellini flick.”

Barrie Kosky
Michael Anderson
Shauna Beesley (Calisto), Emma O'Brien (Glunone), Andrew Muscat-Clark (Diana), Jo Cohen, Naomi Hornstein, Bruce Macrae (keyboard player).
Reviews Various reviews appended to Theatre Board application for “The Lulu Plays”, 1988. “absolutely delicious…the best thing in the entire Spoleto Festival” – Mary Lou Jelbart, ABC Radio. “Director Barrie Kosky has done a fantastic job in updating the work to Edwardian times. In doing so, he