Mark Morris’s spirited take on the ancient Orpheus myth stars mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton as Orfeo, the grieving lover on a quest through the underworld. Soprano Hei-Kyung Hong sings the plaintive Euridice. Mark Wigglesworth conducts Gluck’s elegant score, a pinnacle of the Baroque repertoire.
Production a gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wilmer J. Thomas, Jr.
Languages sung in Orfeo ed Euridice
Title languages displayed for Orfeo ed Euridice
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Timeline for the show, Orfeo ed Euridice
Estimated Run Time
1 hrs 25 mins
Acts I, II, & III
Premiere: Court Theatre (Burgtheater), Vienna, 1762. The myth of the musician Orpheus—who travels to the underworld to retrieve his dead wife, Eurydice—probes the deepest questions of desire, grief, and the power (and limits) of art. Gluck turned to this legend as the basis for a work as they were developing their ideas for a new kind of opera. Disillusioned with the inflexible forms of the genre as they existed at the time, the composer sought to reform the operatic stage with a visionary and seamless union of music, poetry, and dance.
Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714–1787) was born in Bavaria and studied music in Milan. He traveled extensively throughout Europe, attracting students and disciples to his philosophy of an all-encompassing operatic-theatrical experience. His librettist for Orfeo ed Euridice was the remarkable Italian poet Ranieri de’Calzabigi (1714–1795). Thanks to many years spent in Paris, he had been influenced by French drama and shared Gluck’s zeal for an ideal musical theater.
James F. Ingalls
Christoph Willibald Gluck
The opera is set in an idealized Greek countryside and in the mythological underworld. These settings are more conceptual than geographic, and notions of how they should appear can (and rightly do) change in every era.
Gluck consciously avoided the sheer vocal fireworks that he felt had compromised the drama of opera during the era of the castrati—male singers who had been surgically altered before puberty to preserve their high voices. He did not originally dispense with castrati, but the castrato role of Orfeo (today sung by mezzo-sopranos and countertenors) was given an opportunity to impress through musical and dramatic refinement rather than vocal pyrotechnics.
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