Monday, August 05, 2019

Orfeo & Euridice

Conductor:  Christine Brandes
Director:  KJ Dahlaw

Orfeo:  Nikola Printz
Euridice:  Maria Valdes
Amore:  Shawnette Sulker

Orfeo & Euridice by Gluck played at West Edge Opera's current venue The Bridge Yard in Oakland.  A lot of fuss was made about the female/female pairing, but this is pretty common in opera. My problem was that nothing at all was made of the fact that the character Orfeo is a singer, probably a celebrity.  Oh well.  I enjoyed the singing.

Research tells me that this was the original 1762 Viennese version of this opera with an aria for Amore interpolated from the later 1774 Paris version. So nothing fishy.  In the original version Orfeo was sung by an alto castrato and wasn't sung by a woman until the much later 1859 version.

This opera is supposed to be revolutionary, but it never seems so to me.  Perhaps it is the Viennese context that makes it so.  Gluck's early career was as a standard Neapolitan opera composer whose operas were endless strings of da capo arias.  In this opera there are long scenes resembling recitativo accompagnato, but no detectable da capo arias.  We are back to Cavalli more or less, except now everything is tonal. 

A very long portion of the opera is taken up with ballet.  In the second part it is Orfeo avoiding looking at Euridice which doesn't really work theatrically.  For our eyes we don't see the revolution.  French opera never fell into the all da capo aria trap.

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