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

 

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Garsington Opera’s Extended 2017 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2017-18 Barbican Classical Music Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Coming Soon in February: The Fifth Ealing Music & Film Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Siegfried comes to Saffron Walden __________________________________
  • NEW! Symphonic Soundscapes: Cadogan Hall and RPO Announce Exclusive Collaboration with Digital App Octava __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2017 Aldeburgh Festival is from 9 to 25 June __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet presents Mary Skeaping’s Giselle at the London Coliseum from 11 – 22 January 2017 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Grange Festival’s First Season in June and July 2017 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Buenos Aires 2017 With a Focus On Co-productions __________________________________
  • NEW! Preview of the 2017 Chipping Campden Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Investec Opera Holland Park’s Casts for the 2017 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! THE SOPRANO ELISABETH MEISTER: FIGHTING BACK FROM WHAT LIFE THROWS AT YOU AND INSPIRING OTHERS __________________________________
  • NEW! REVIEWERS OF SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL PICK THEIR BEST OF 2016 __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! Göran Forsling’s Opera Update from Helsinki and Stockholm __________________________________
  • NEW! Budapest’s Chamber Music Festival Provides a Glimpse of Not Only an Existential But Also a Political Utopia __________________________________
  • NEW! The Mastersingers Celebrate Wagner Past and Present with the Rehearsal Orchestra __________________________________
  • NEW! MARTYN BRABBINS IS ENGLISH NATIONAL OPERA’S NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR __________________________________
  • NEW! MONICA HUGGETT IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! Movers Makers Musicians Mingle Part Two __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H