Gluck's first "reform" opera, meaning the music of the baroque era with its embellishments and improvisations is replaced with a simpler and more direct vocal style. This production is ... See full summary »


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Episode credited cast:
Stephanie Blythe ...
Danielle de Niese ...
Heidi Grant Murphy ...
James Levine ...
Himself - Conductor
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Metropolitan Opera Ballet ...
Joshua Greene ...
Himself - Harpsichord
Metropolitan Opera Chorus ...
Mark Morris ...
Himself - Intermission Interviewee


Gluck's first "reform" opera, meaning the music of the baroque era with its embellishments and improvisations is replaced with a simpler and more direct vocal style. This production is modernized and includes a host of celebrities in Hades. Written by dnitzer

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classical | See All (1) »






Release Date:

24 January 2009 (USA)  »

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User Reviews

A Good Night in Vienna
20 October 2009 | by (Birmingham, England) – See all my reviews

Gluck's opera exists in a shortish Italian version written for Vienna in 1762 and in a longer French version written for Paris in 1774. In the Vienna version, the role of Orfeo was written for a castrato whereas, in Paris, it was taken by a counter-tenor.There are also various hybrid versions which try to combine the best of the Vienna and Paris versions and the role of Orfeo is usually taken these days by a mezzo.

Before hearing this production from the Met, I only knew Orfeo through one or other of these hybrids. The argument for using them is that some of Gluck's best music is in the Paris version so it is a pity to omit it. However, this Met production makes a strong case for performing the opera as originally conceived. The story, of Orfeo losing and regaining Euridice is a slight one but, at just about 90 minutes, it is able to maintain its dramatic momentum. To the audience, it is almost an oratorio. The chorus, in Mark Morris's production is everyone who has ever died so we see, in tiers at the back of the stage, Gandhi, Henry VIII, Moses, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, Jackie Kennedy, Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette to name just a few.

In front of the chorus are dancers, representing Orfeo's friends, furies and blessed spirits. Mark Morris's choreography is perhaps the only slightly disappointing thing about this production. It is too West Side Storyish with the dancers in drab modern dress. One of the babies that is lost with the bathwater of the Paris version is the famous Dance of the Blessed Spirits which, in the Vienna version, is a very abbreviated affair.

There are only three soloists. Amor, is sung by Heidi Grant-Murphy as a cheeky chappie in a tee shirt and comfy trousers. It looks as though she did not bother to get changed before she came on stage and just grabbed a little pair of wings as she entered. Danielle de Niese, as Euridice, certainly did bother to get changed, into a fetching, off the shoulder satin and feather number. She sings divinely and it is a pity that Euridice only appears in the second half of the opera. I loved her pleading for Orfeo to turn round as they departed from Hades and her duets with Orfeo. On stage for the duration is mezzo Stephanie Blythe as Orfeo. This is a stunning performance with a quite unique sound, particularly in the resonant lower end of her register. I have never heard Che Faro more movingly sung. With those powerful lungs driving a female larynx, you really get a feel for how it might have been to hear a castrato singing the role in 1762.

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