* Notes *
John Eliot Gardiner, the English Baroque Soloists, and the Monteverdi Choir (pictured left, photograph by Paul Burns) performed a beautiful L'Orfeo, Favola in musica at San Francisco Symphony's Davies Hall last night. The playing was elegant, even the brass instruments sounded clean. The singing was even and lovely. The vigorous choristers sounded together.
Despite being billed as a concert version of the piece, there were clearly costumes and choreography. The orchestra was split in the middle, with Maestro Gardiner stage left center, and the choir upstage on risers. This left an aisle for the singers, and much dancing occurred here. The female chorus dressed in bright, short dresses for the acts in The Fields of Thrace and in black, long gowns for the acts in The Underworld. The choir had a lively stage presence.
Most of the principal voices were exceedingly pretty. Soprano Francesca Aspromonte (Music/Messenger) has a bird-like sound with some fire, while Mariana Flores was an ethereal Euridice and warbling Hope. Francesca Boncompagni's breathing was noticeable as Proserpina, but her voice is suitably plaintive. Tenor Krystian Adam was warm and genial as the First Shepherd. Tenor Nicolas Mulroy sang a subdued Apollo.
The bass voice of Gianluca Buratto (Caronte/Plutone) is well-supported and rich with impressive low notes. Tenor Andrew Tortise seamlessly sang the title role. He could have conveyed more mournfulness in Act IV, but his voice is bright and gorgeous.
* Tattling *
The opera was performed without an intermission but those around me on the Orchestra Level were silent and attentive.