Gluck's masterwork brought to life in a visually striking, beautifully sung and powerful production from Opera Australia
Orphee et Eurydice(Orpheus and Eurydice) is to me Gluck's masterwork, it has the most believable and poignant story of any of Gluck's operas with much emotion and it contains his most beautiful and consistently memorable music. This Opera Australia production is wonderful and one of the best among the DVD competition with many things that will delight opera enthusiasts. The production values look great, the lighting is very expressive, the costumes are appropriate and well-tailored(yes even Amore looking like a street boy) but the most striking were in the sets; the underworld has such a colourful and haunting atmosphere and the cube and silver landscape gives the Elysian fields scene an ethereal touch. The staging is nicely done with much emotional power done with subtlety, and while it is creative it is always true to the libretto and does nothing distasteful. This is especially true in the quite intoxicating Dance of the Furies, and really the only real let-down was some(but not all) of the chemistry between Orphee and Eurydice looking a touch awkward in the last act. The video directing is unobtrusive and expansive and allows the intimacy when needed and the sound is not the most resonant but it doesn't hamper the singing or music at all. There is little wrong with the musical values either, Marco Guidarini's conducting is always solid and sympathetic to the drama, the orchestra play with idiomatic style and depth and the chorus sing and characterise beautifully, doing grieving and erotic equally well. Really liked the performances too, especially with David Hobson in one of his best performances on DVD. It is a very thoughtful interpretation that is capable of much sensitivity, poise and intensity and he tackles the challenging role of Orphee(part of it being that Gluck is hard to sing in general but also that he is on stage almost all of the time) bravely and succeeds- lots of lovely sounds, a real understanding of the style, good musicianship and phrasing and his crucial arias are sung with grace- with only some unidiomatic French that wasn't quite so good. Miriam Gormley was the other standout, her voice the most pleasing and smooth of the cast and you can't take your eyes off her, she is on stage almost as much as Hobson and her presence has a lot of fire and athleticism, not being afraid to take risks. Eurydice's music is mostly in Act 3 and the performance of Amanda Thane makes it worth the wait, she makes for a poignant Eurydice and her voice has power and a dark beauty while not getting in the way of flexibility. In conclusion, a wonderful production from Opera Australia. 9.5/10 Bethany Cox
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