Canadian Tenor in Opera Bhutan

A musical first! The opera Acis and Galatea by G. F. Handel is the chosen piece for creator and director Aaron Carpene for Opera Bhutan. Performing artists from around the world will meet with Bhutanese performers in this historic premiere of live opera taking place in the Kingdom of Bhutan. This project will combine Handel’s classic music with Bhutanese cultural expressions (voice, ritual dance, instrumentation, design, and symbols). For Aaron, “With Opera Bhutan I wanted to put Handel into a completely new context…one of the exciting elements is the interaction with traditional Bhutanese dance and music within the Handel score.”

Photo Credit: Aaron Carpene
Photo Credit: Aaron Carpene – Rehearsals

Music is very important in Bhutanese society and continues to be a major carrier of culture, spiritual values and tradition from generation to generation. With Bhutan’s ongoing opening to the outside world at a time of rapid globalization, opportunities for the Bhutanese people to hear and experience new musical expressions have increased. However, there have been very limited opportunities for the Bhutanese people to experience live Western classical music (voice or instruments) – and no live experience with the full expression of opera. 

Likewise, most audiences in the West have no experience of the important music, dance, and other unique cultural expressions very much alive in the Eastern Himalayas. Accordingly, this project offers a particularly rare and enriching opportunity for everyone involved – audiences and artists alike – to explore and experience something new yet rooted in and inspired by genuinely important and vital authentic artistic traditions that know very little of each other or of their differing understandings of “art”. – Aaron on the Opera Bhutan Project

Photo Credit: Aaron Carpene - Stefano Vizioli - stage director, Aaron Carpene - conductor, Bhutanese friend
Photo Credit: Aaron Carpene – Stefano Vizioli – stage director, Aaron Carpene – conductor, Bhutanese friend

A Canadian, acclaimed tenor Thomas Macleay, will appear in the lead role of Acis in the extraordinary Opera Bhutan premiere of Handel’s Acis and Galatea. Thomas Macleay studied music and drama at the University of Alberta, McGill University, the Banff Centre, the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute and l’Atelier lyrique de l’Opera de Montreal. He was the title role of Acis for Opera Atelier in 2010.

This timeless masterpiece Acis and Galatea is based on one of the stories from Ovid’s Metamorphoses: Acis and Galatea’s love is wrecked and destroyed by the jealous cyclopean monster, Polyphemus. Galatea’s grief inspires her divine powers to transform the mortal Acis into an ever-flowing stream.

Acis and Galatea from Opera Bhutan takes place October 12th 2013 at The Royal Textile Academy in Thimphu, Bhutan. For questions or interest attending, please email

To learn more about Opera Bhutan, check out this great article by The Global Dispatches, Handel in Bhutan, and the Opera Bhutan website!

Canadian Tenor in Opera Bhutan

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