Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice at Lyric Opera of Chicago

By Salvatore Calomino for Opera Today

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The roles of Orphée, Eurydice, and Amour are sung by Dmitry Korchak, Adrianna Chuchman, and Lauren Snouffer. Dance sequences are performed by members of the Joffrey Ballet. The Lyric Opera Orchestra is conducted by Harry Bicket, while the Lyric Opera Chorus has been prepared by its Chorus Master, Michael Black. The director and choreographer of this new Lyric Opera co-production, shared with the Los Angeles Opera and the Staatsoper Hamburg, is John Neumeier. Sets, costumes, and lighting are also the creation of Mr. Neumeier. Debuts at Lyric Opera of Chicago are being made by Mr. Korchak and by members of the Joffrey Ballet.

During the overture a pantomime associated with the title couple exemplifies those changes behind the substance of Mr. Neumeier’s reinterpretation of Gluck’s opera. Orphée – now playing the role of a choreographer – enters in modern casual dress from stage rear to rehearse a ballet based on Arnold Böcklin’s 1880s painting, “Die Toteninsel” (“The Isle of the Dead”). A reproduction of one version of the painting remains on an easel at stage right. Soon a quarrel ensues with his spouse Eurydice, who also plays the role of lead female dancer in Orphée’s troupe. Eurydice responds with indignation and storms out of the rehearsal. The sonic and visual presence of an automobile indicates Eurydice’s accidental death, just as Orphée remains downstage left perusing his performance notes. Once the horrible realization of Eurydice’s death is communicated, the overture has ended and Orphée’s manifest grief, as well as the opera proper, commences.

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Photos courtesy of Stefany Phillips (Lyric Opera, Chicago)

Source: Opera Today

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