Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"The 'Orfeo' Diaries": Why You Must See "Orfeo & Euridice"

 "A must-see, don't miss this!"

Orfeo's  Katharine Goeldner
You know, every opera company says that about every production they put on. And every singer says it about whatever their current role is. So what is different about this one? Why should you, Dear Audience, come see Orfeo ed Euridice? It's not "grand opera" or as familiar as, say, Carmen, Aida, or Boheme. So why bother?

I'll tell you why.  It's because Orfeo isn't like any other operatic experience you will have. There's no spectacle (but this really is an incredibly lovely production!) and this isn't some outdated re-telling of a boring, ancient myth. This is an intimate, incredibly moving musical and theatrical experience. The reason this opera has been so popular for over 200 years is because it tells the universal story of human pain, loss and the redemptive power of love.


Take the show's hit tune, "Che faro senza Euridice." You may think, "Yeah, yeah, I know that song. Heard it a million times." Let me tell you: you haven't. When you hear this deceptively simple tune in the context of the opera, it takes on a whole new meaning. Gluck has managed to create a timeless expression of what everyone of us who has experienced the death of someone close to us knows. The simple text  ("What shall I do without Euridice? Where shall I go without my love?") becomes the heart-wrenching outpouring of Orfeo's grief: first disbelief, then anger at the gods who let this happen, then sad acceptance and the desire to kill himself to be reunited in death with his beloved. It's amazing to me how Gluck uses the same words and the same tune for three different verses and yet the result has so many unexpected facets to it. (And, by the way, we are doing Gluck's original version, which is much quieter and more introspective than the more familiar, flashy Berlioz re-working of this piece.) 

I keep coming back to the word "intimate" to describe this piece, and it truly is. There are only three charactersthe Goddess of Love Amore, Euridice and me, Orfeo. Well, four, really, because the chorus and our two wonderful dancers make up the important fourth element of Furies/Souls of the Heroes and the Virtuous. (The chorus, by the way, gets some of the best music in the opera. So gorgeous!) 

My goal in my portrayal of Orfeo, is to take you, the Audience, along with me on this emotional journey. I want to give you more than just a pleasant evening of lovely music. I want to make you feel what Orfeo feels, to remind you of your own love and, yes, loss. And most importantly, to remind you that Love truly does bear all things, hope all things, endure all things.  Mezzo-soprano Katharine Goeldner (Orfeo)

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