Tuesday, January 27, 2009

At the Movies and the Met: Orfeo ed Euridice

On Saturday I enjoyed the Met's highly lauded production of Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice—projected "live" at a movie theater in Farmingdale, Long Island.

There will be two more performances of this short and sweet production this season: One on Wednesday night and the other on Saturday night. Catch one if you can!

The current production won its star, Stephanie Blythe, a rave from Anthony Tommasini at The New York Times. "With each performance the American mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe gives, it becomes increasingly apparent that a once-in-a-generation opera singer has arrived," is how it starts. "Who knows what roles Ms. Blythe might take on next. I would hear her sing absolutely anything. How about a new opera written expressly for this exciting artist who is just entering her prime?" is how it ends.

But there's more to the production than that. Blythe's well-cast Euridice, Danielle de Niese, sang beautifully—especially in her duet with Blythe during their passage out of Hades. The direction and choreography, by Mark Morris, didn't win me over in the early parts of the opera (perhaps they worked better live than on camera), but everything came together beautifully as the opera progressed.

To get back to Tommasini's remark that a new opera should be written expressly for Blythe, I just thought I'd mention again that, although my friend Paul Siskind's opera The Sailor-Boy and the Falcon wasn't built around her, he wrote her part knowing that she would be performing it—and she sounded (and acted) great in her role.

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