Mark Morris Dance Group and Philharmonia Baroque offer world premiere of ‘Acis and Galatea’

A perennial Cal Performances favorite, the Mark Morris Dance Group, is back with a world premiere at UC Berkeley April 25-27. Their 200th performance at UC Berkeley, which takes place Friday, will be followed by two free, public events during the weekend.

A look inside Scenic Art Studios at the set painting preparations. Photo by Johan Henckens of the Mark Morris Dance Group.

A look inside Scenic Art Studios at the set painting preparations. (Photo by Johan Henckens of the Mark Morris Dance Group)

The group, led by renowned director and choreographer Mark Morris, will add dance to the story of “Acis and Galatea,” an opera written by George Frideric Handel and based on Ovid’s epic love story, “Metamorphosis.”

The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Choral, led by Nicholas McGegan, will perform Wolfgang Mozart’s arrangement of the opera, which expands on the original by adding bassoon, clarinet and horn.

Guest soloists will sing in English the parts of the three main characters: soprano Sherezade Panthaki as Galatea, a sea nymph; tenor Thomas Cooley as Acis, a shepherd who is in love with Galatea; and bass-baritone Douglas Williams as Polymphemus, a Cyclops who is also smitten with Galatea.

Set on the banks of the Mediterranean, the opera tells a tale of unrequited love, a monster and murder. Appropriately for the often provocatively funny Morris, it also is replete with wit and parody.

Costumes were designed by Isaac Mizrahi, while Adrianne Lobel is the artistic and scenic designer, and Michael Chybowski designed the lighting.

Cal Performances was the work’s lead commissioner.

Community outreach

Two programs related to the opera will take place on Saturday and Sunday in the Zellerbach Playhouse as part of Morris’s campus residency.

Additional information, video

Watch an exclusive Cal Performances video interview with Mark Morris about his new work.

A preview of “Acis and Galatea” was reviewed in

To learn more about the opera and its artists, see design sketches and more, visit the “Acis and Galatea” website.

On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Mark Morris Dance Group members will lead an inter-generational dance class, which will start with a modern dance warm-up accompanied by live music, and will cover the Mark Morris repertory. Seats in the class have already been filled.

On Sunday, Morris will sit down in conversation with Ara Guseliman, dean and provost of The Julliard School, the famed performing arts conservatory in New York City. To R.S.V.P., click here.

Morris has created more than 130 works for his dance group; he also conducts orchestras, directs opera, and choreographs for ballet companies worldwide. He is a MacArthur Foundation Fellow and has received 11 honorary doctorates.

For information about tickets to “Acis and Galatea,” visit, visit the Cal Performances Box Office at Zellerbach Hall or call (510) 642-9988. Learn more about the Mark Morris Dance Group online.