A college dining hall is not the first place you might expect to hear a US operatic premiere, but starting on March 23, Lowell House Opera will present what it claims are the first American performances of “La Grotta di Trofonio” (“Trofonio’s Cave”), a 1785 opera by Antonio Salieri — the Italian composer who probably still owes his renown to his dubious portrayal as Mozart’s arch-rival in the film “Amadeus.”
A two-act work with a libretto by Giovanni Battista Casti, the piece depicts the havoc wrought on two pairs of lovers by a magician who swaps their personalities on the eve of their weddings. Reviewing the British premiere last summer, a critic for the website Bachtrack assessed the work as a “brisk and vibrant comedy” and as “a hidden masterpiece.”
Lowell House Opera, founded in 1938, involves students, professionals, and community members in its productions. Edward Jones, the company’s newly arrived music director (who also serves as the Gund University Organist and Choirmaster at Harvard), will lead most of the upcoming performances from the fortepiano, with Joseph Turbessi replacing him on March 26 and 30. Roxanna Myhrum will direct the fully staged production. Performances will be held from March 23 to April 2 at Lowell House Opera, 10 Holyoke Place, Cambridge.