A Great Classical Story Gets an Update at Buxton Festival.

16/07/2014

 Christoph Willibald Gluck, Orfeo ed Eurydice (sung in Italian with English surtitles): Soloists, Buxton Festival Chorus. Northern Chamber Orchestra / Stuart Stratford. (conductor), Opera House, Buxton, 13.7.2014. (RJF)

Orfeo Ed Euridice - Christoph Willibald Gluck - Buxton Festival

Orfeo Ed Euridice – Christoph Willibald Gluck – Buxton Festival

Cast:
Orfeo – Michael Chance
Euridice – Barbara Bargnesi
Amore – Daisy Brown

Production:
Director, Stephen Medcalf.
Designer, Frances O’Connor.
Lighting Designer. Malcolm Rippeth
Choreographer & Assistant Director, Paula O’Reilly

Whilst the anniversaries in 2013 of the birth of Benjamin Britten, Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner were widely celebrated by new productions and performances, the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Gluck seems to be passing with little acknowledgement, the Royal Northern College of Music being a notable exception with their production of this opera. Yet Gluck and his so called Reform Operas, of which Orfeo ed Eurydice was the first, could be said to have had as profound an effect on the evolution of opera than even those distinguished names. Gluck and his librettist Calzabigi set out with the intention of breaking away from what had become the sterile style of opera seria, with its concentration, via long da capo arias, on vocal display, and replace it with sung and staged drama. In choosing the story of Orfeo, set to music by numerous predecessors, they indicated their intention in as clear a manner as possible. They also chose a well-known simple story of the intensity of love and its virtues.

In this production simplicity was the name of the game in respect of the set, which consisted solely of the name Orfeo in large three-dimensional letters and the prop of a guitar. Initially the letters were suspended and spelt right to left. Later they had additions to give Amore. The letters were lowered and then moved about on stage as props for entrances and departures as well as hiding places, both imaginative and functional and, an important consideration, relatively inexpensive. Costumes were of today with Orfeo in white suit alooking like a latter day rock star, his guitar the only stage prop. As befits the era and rock ethos his wife dies popping pills whilst Amore is a leather clad gamine figure. The chorus appears as groupies in T-shirts emblazoned with the name Orfeo, or more scantily clad as sun lovers smoking on a beach holiday,. Is this Elysium?

With conductor Stuart Stratford drawing near period instrument sounds from his orchestra the scene was set for this contemporary setting. In the title role the vastly experienced counter tenor Michael Chance was superb in his acted portrayal. Regrettably, his singing was marred with some less than beautiful sounds to the extent that I would have preferred a steadier, and consistently rich sound, of a female mezzo. Fortunately the two female principals were in good form. The young Daisy Brown has excellent diction and an edge to her tone that enables good expression. As Euridice, Barbara Bagnesi was outstanding vocally and as an actress. She expressed Euridice’s many changes of mood in exemplary fashion with a wide variety of vocal nuance and colour. Equally welcome, she acted and inflected the words in a manner we do not often see or hear on the operatic stage.

Orfeo Ed Euridice - Christoph Willibald Gluck - Buxton Festival

Orfeo Ed Euridice – Christoph Willibald Gluck – Buxton Festival

The many dances, particularly in Act Three, were realized by the Festival Chorus, if not quite in the manner of trained dancers but suitably choreographed by Paula O’Reilly.

There are further performances on Saturday 19th, Tuesday 22nd and, Friday 25th July at 7.15pm

Robert J Farr

 

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! Bregenz Festival 17 July – 18 August 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Sergei Polunin and Friends at London Palladium 28 May – 1 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 Elgar Festival in Worcester from 30 May to 2 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Musikfest Berlin 2019 from 30 August to 19 September __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder Announces 2019 Art-Song Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Longborough Festival Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! YOUNG RUSSIAN PIANIST ALEXANDRA DOVGAN TALKS TO GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon on 30 June __________________________________
  • NEW! When Music is Indistinguishable from Drama by Jack Buckley __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • PIANIST MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month