Orfeo ed Euridice

LA Opera's Orphée et Eurydice

La-opera-orpheus-2018* Notes * 
Choreographer John Neumeier's production of Orphée et Eurydice (final ovation pictured left) opened at Los Angeles Opera last week. Dance companies seem to love this opera by Gluck, and this co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Joffrey Ballet is no exception. The reworking of the libretto to be contemporary, with Orpheus as a choreographer and Eurydice a star dancer is compelling, but it seems pretty brutal for the lead soprano, it would be a rare thing indeed for an opera singer to also be a prima ballerina as well.

Joffrey Ballet is indeed impressive, the dancers mastery of various dance forms -- from classic to modern -- is obvious. There were only the tiniest sloppiness with some angles not being precisely the same from person to person. The male dancers that portrayed dark spirits in Act II (pictured below, photograph by Ken Howard) were especially effective. By the end of that act in fact, I felt as if I were floating on a cloud of beauty, it all did come together very well.

Orph_0857prThe singing was uniformly clear and beautiful, while the acting was more mixed. As Amour, soprano Liv Redpath is adorably cherubic with a lithe voice. Soprano Lisette Oropesa (Eurydice) has a lovely warmth and clarity. As athletic and graceful as she is, even when she walked barefoot it was conspicuous that she is not a dancer of the same caliber as the others on stage. Neumeier really put her on the spot, it doesn't seem fair to expect an amazing opera singer also fit in with professional dancers. On the other hand, Maxim Mironov was convincing as Orphée, he also sounds great, so open and even from top to bottom.

The chorus was very nice and cohesive as it sang in the pit with the orchestra. I enjoyed James Conlon's conducting, what it might have lacked in exactitude it made up for in liveliness.

* Tattling * 
The women next to me in Row B Seats 14 and 15 were at the performance because they must have known one of the dancers, and consequently they didn't seem that interested in the music and occasionally spoke to each other at full volume even though they were a few feet from the Maestro. The man next to me in 12 either fell asleep or was concentrating very hard on the music with his eyes closed in Act II.


Pina Bausch's Orpheus und Eurydike

Pina-bausch-orpheus-eurydice* Notes *
The Paris Opera Ballet performed Pina Bausch's arresting choreography of Orpheus und Eurydike as part the Lincoln Center Festival yesterday evening. The set, designed by Rolf Borzik, is sober, offset by his simple, often translucent costumes. The dancing was gorgeous. The movements were fluid, and had a lovely natural quality to them. One never felt that the dancers were simply following directions, all the motions seemed to flow out of their bodies with elegance.

The orchestra sounded together under conductor Thomas Hengelbrock. The oboe was especially lovely. The singers also did well. The chorus had many strong moments. Zoe Nicolaidou was a perfectly sprightly Amore. Yun Jung Choi (Eurydike) sounded pretty enough, and only had a few shrill moments. In the title role, Maria Riccarda Wessling had a nice clarity in her higher range, and some warmth. She had some frogginess a few of her lower notes.

* Tattling * 
There was whispering from the woman in B 1 at the beginning of scenes, even when the dancers were performing. Said person was concerned about seeing the stage, and asked that the person in A 1 not lean into the aisle as he was blocking her view.


Orphée et Eurydice at Seattle Opera

12_Orpheus_eb_140

* Notes * 
Orphée et Eurydice (William Burden as Orphée with the Furies pictured left, photograph by Elise Bakketun) opened at Seattle Opera on last night. Jose Maria Condemi's production provided a series of entertaining moments that did not quite cohere, but did not get in the way of the music. Phillip Lienau's set is clean, and the scene changes were smooth and quiet, enhanced by Connie Yun's lighting. The costumes, from Heidi Zamora, had a loose, relaxed look. Yannis Adoniou's choreography was dull, for example, the first ballet consisted of three dancers falling to the floor in unison and the third one was a pantomime foreshadowing the plot. The second ballet was silliest, the 7 dancers were Furies who drew their shirts over their heads. It seemed an untoward combination of Martha Graham's Lamentation (1930) and Merce Cunningham's Antic Meet (1958).

Conductor Gary Thor Wedow kept the orchestra moving, occasionally a bit a head of the singers. There were 2 or 3 minor intonation errors, but for the most part the orchestra had a nice, clear sound. The chorus sang well.

The principals were uniformly strong. Julianne Gearhart looked like she was on her way to Black Rock City as an Amore outfitted with pink ruffles, fairy wings, tall shiny boots, and a glittering cruiser. Her voice has a breathless, girlish quality to it. Davinia Rodríguez's voice is more piercing, and her Eurydice was convincing. Rodríguez pushed a little hard on some of the high notes at the beginning of Act II, Scene 2, but otherwise sounded fine. William Burden made for an incredible Orphée. His voice is sweet and bright, and his singing was quite moving. His "J'ai perdu mon Eurydice" was exquisite.

* Tattling * 
Someone unwrapped something in cellophane during the overture. There was some whispering, particularly when no one was singing. No electronic noise was noted. I laughed a great deal during the second ballet, and tried to keep this as silent as possible.


Orfeo ed Euridice at the Met

  Orfeo-met-04292011 * Notes * 
The latest revival of the Metropolitan Opera's Orfeo ed Euridice (pictured left, © Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera) opened last night. The production, directed by Mark Morris, is busy. Done without an intermission, every second seemed full of movement. Allen Moyer's set opened, closed, shifted, and spun. Unfortunately it was rather loud, especially noticeable because the music is not. The staircase that descended and ascended could have illuminated the drama in some fashion, but simply created too much noise to be revealing. The lighting was simple and unobtrusive. The dancing had some elegant lines, and was rather humorous at times. Isaac Mizrahi's dress for Euridice was pleasant enough, as was the suit for Orfeo, and the subdued historical costumes of the chorus. Amor and most of the dancers had mundane street clothes on, they all seemed to be wearing separates. I did not understand the use of glittery cloth.

In his Met debut, Antony Walker drove the orchestra at a good clip. There were times when the musicians sound just on the edge of losing control and this was engaging. The chorus was ethereal and pretty. As Euridice, Kate Royal's Met debut revealed a voice with smooth edges, not terribly voluminous, but perfectly audible. Lisette Oropesa (Amor) seemed a bit compressed, especially in her entrance, as she was suspended from the ceiling. She did have moments of pure loveliness. David Daniels warbled as Orfeo, especially at first, but had pleasing warmth throughout. "Che farò" was beautiful.

* Tattling * 
Standing room on the orchestra level was full of whispering, but most of it died down once much of the dancing was underway. After the performance, some female patrons were seen switch out their shoes in the orchestra lobby. Evidently someone did not find this dignified, commenting that it was a "show after the show."