Arrived back from skiing in Chamonix this afternoon, then hot footed it to see the last night of Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi at the ADC Theatre. The production was by the Cambridge University Baroque Ensemble & Fitzwilliam Chamber Opera, who have set up this nice web site. The lead playing Orpheus, Sam Furness, and the messenger, Suzana Ograjense, booth stood out with excellent performances. Adam Drew made a good Charon, his bass added a lot of atmosphere as did the makeup! The Ensemble as good, and really impressive when they sang together.
The music was wonderful: Dan Tidhar was great on the harpsichord and this pulled the whole piece together. We knew Stephen Mounsey and Anna Langley, playing cornet and lute, but we hadn’t anticipated they would have made such a grand appearance—Anna on stage for the opening scene, and Stephen in the middle isle as part of a grand wind instrument fanfare, from a few rows behind us.
I did need a prod half way through the second half: we’d had most of a bottle of shiraz by then and the heat, dark, and wine combined with our early start had me dozing nicely! The appearance of a grand golden Apollo descending from heaven in his chariot amidst a mass of gold and orange sunbeams made quite an impression and blew the cobwebs away (Michael poking me in the sides helped too!).
The most impressive staging I thought was the transition from the Styx, to the Palace of Hades. A gauze curtain provided a lit backdrop for Charon that was used to good effect, and the stage behind was lit to show the ensemble, dressed in grey and white gauze shrouds, drifting around on the stage, with Hades and Persephone behind on their thrones. Slick and ‘underwordly’. The ensemble sang behind the gauze screen which added to the atmosphere.
We really enjoyed the performance.
From the ADC web site:
“Baying creatures of the underworld, the descent Apollo from on high and woven through all, the power of music so beauteous it charms even the gods”
Join Orpheus on his perilous journey to Pluto’s realm where he, ravaged by grief, seeks to rescue his beloved wife, Euridice. Accompanied only by Hope and his magical lyre, Orpheus sets out upon a timeless tale of Love so strong it vies to overcome even Death. But will Pluto heed his pleas? Will Orpheus’ own weakness prove his very undoing?
As vibrant today as it was in 1607, the world’s first true opera bursts into life on the ADC stage in a brand new English translation. Brought to you by Cambridge’s finest young singers and a large, dazzling period-instrument orchestra, Monteverdi’s music alternately delights and twists at the heart, by turns ethereal and virtuosic.
Don’t miss this rare opportunity to witness Orfeo at it’s best – fully staged and spectacular.