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Cleaving Eurydice from Orpheus – The Boston Musical Intelligencer – Lyric Say

Eurydice and Orpheus occasion with pals. (Nile Scott Studios)

Carolyn Abbate opens “In Search of Opera” (2001) linking the style of opera with the butchery that severs Orpheus’ voice from his dismembered physique. Sarah Ruhl, in her 2003 play “Eurydice,” and now Matthew Aucoin in his operatic setting of her textual content, cleave Eurydice from Orpheus, voice from instrumental music, and reminiscence from physique. The present BLO efficiency of the brand new chamber orchestra model separates and reunites characters, elements, and constants because it charts constellations on this ongoing historical past.

Greek mythology teaches us three issues about Orpheus.  He’s an unparalleled musician, whose expertise can transfer the hearts of Persephone and Hades, wild animals, and even stones. He loves Eurydice. He’s killed and dismembered. Greek mythology teaches us lower than three issues about Eurydice. She is married to, and loves Orpheus. Whereas being pursued, she steps on a viper, and dies. She virtually returns from Hades. (To paraphrase Heraclitus, “The way down is easy. The road up is not.”) So who is that this lady on the heart of this story of affection and woe? What’s her function in music? That’s the query Ruhl poses in her drama, and one which Aucoin takes up in his music. Muse? Inspiration? Conspicuous beloved? Do any of those have a voice or an id separate from Orpheus? From her wedding ceremony bereft of her father, via the capricious scheming of Hades and her surprising descent to the underworld, conversations with a trio of stones she finds there, and her father who dotes upon and cares for her, Eurydice waltzes via the plot. Whereas Orpheus is considering music, she considerations herself with phrases; Shakespeare, particularly “King Lear,” determine prominently on this story. Company is restored to Eurydice:  right here, it’s implied, she has a selection to remain or go now when Orpheus descends in his quest to search out her.

Is Eurydice’s company illusory? I can not escape the conclusion she stays as a lot a pawn right here as in earlier variations. Orpheus needs a marriage occasion; Eurydice leaves it. Eurydice misses her father; Hades manipulates her loss into her demise. In Act III, Eurydice writes a letter “To Orpheus’s Future Wife” about how one can have a tendency and domesticate the musician. Does she ever step right into a room of her personal? Her father tries, crafting her one from string within the underworld; the third act sees it destroyed. Is Eurydice’s absence a situation for music? Ruhl and Aucoin makes a case for this proposition right here. An alternate in Act I captures this conundrum:

Eurydice:  I don’t know that I wish to be an instrument.
Orpheus:  Why?

Contradictory objectives crash collectively on this short-lived, long-loved marriage.

Hades (David Portillo) Nile Scott Studios

Ruhl’s mission is based on a post-classical rupture between phrases and music. Aucoin intuits this:  the opera begins with a disconnect between orchestral and vocal writing which discover their joyful reunion starting in vocal ensemble items in Act I, then everything of Act III the place opera resumes the acquainted, harmonious mix of contrarieties with orchestra and voices pacing in tandem, bringing thrill and sweep and energy to heightened have an effect on. The mixed forces of Aucoin and Ruhl make of Eurydice an interrogation of the boundaries, which means, the very definition, of anachronism. This play with allusion and historical past, ontology and epistemology, continues with the Stones (Little, Large, & Loud), whose (seeming) intransigence and impermanence (masquerading as permanence) testify to the  energy of music in its ineffable guises.

This manufacturing marks the debut of a decreased orchestration of Eurydice, commissioned by Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Grand Rapids. At no time did the music ever appear slimmed, trimmed, dieted; the sound world was constantly ample, wealthy, diversified. The music begins with the open, repetitive chords of Glass, Reich, Adams then expands to the plush chordal scapes of the operatic demesne; it is a extra complicated, extra participating orchestral half. The traces for voice begin off insipidly pedestrian. With Hades’ “Orpheus’ fingers are weak and long” the solo vocal traces purchase depth. Remarkably because the opera opens, Eurydice is the extra operatic function and Orpheus the plain. In Act II, the Large Stone sings, “Eurydice was a musician. Orpheus was her husband.” Loud Stone rapidly corrects this line however isn’t it actually a corruption? Right here Eurydice is the musician; solely in Act III, bereft of his spouse and storming the citadel of Hades in his ardour and longing does Orpheus rise to the mantle of custom. Aucoin’s rating nonetheless accommodates multitudes sufficient to maneuver mountains and soothe feral beasts, in addition to Boston audiences.

Eurydice brings a number of debuts to Boston Lyric Opera. Sydney Mancasola (soprano) animated Eurydice with energy and conviction, vary and number of expression, marred solely by constantly curious enunciations that despatched my eyes to the surtitles to decipher the textual content. Elliot Madore (baritone) sang Orpheus with a transparent, sturdy voice. In Act III his projection appeared compelled, maybe overcoming a quirk of acoustics on this area? David Portillo (tenor) embodied Hades with verve and beauty and depth. Mark S. Doss (bass-baritone) as Father gave an affecting efficiency that was emotive, diversified, heat, and supple. Nicholas Kelliher (countertenor) spirited Orpheus Double—a difficult function that concerned singing from the balcony, offstage, backstage, onstage; with Orpheus and separate; typically an echo on the halfstep, and different occasions a separate vocal line totally. Kelliher rose to those challenges and easily tailored his presence to swimsuit the wants from passage to passage. Of the trio of stones, Alexis Peart as Large Stone stood out for her vocal and stage presence and supply.

The Huntington Theater will not be a big area; the set right here is an ingenious and versatile piece which serves the scene fantastically. The curtain opens on a grey backdrop wall some ten toes excessive. Later the wall separates to turn into a stair. Atop the wall turns into a seaside promenade, a penthouse residence, the world of the residing. Doorways open inside it, revealing the “Lethe-vator” (waters of forgetfulness raining contained in the elevator).

For all of the reward I heap upon Douglas Fitch for the set design, I subtract infinitely extra for his costume design. Usually costumes don’t elicit such sturdy sensations of loathing and repulsion from me; this half-baked scheme, disjointed over the course of the night, distracted and detracted from the efficiency. Starting with Ken and Barbie blondes whose tie-dyed occupation is “Beach,” via a marriage occasion in Hawaiian print shirts, the look borrows from the summer season movie with out the intelligently playful nods to deeper which means. Pity poor Hades, whose journey on this stage traverses an Oompa Loompa (however gigantic in stature and with a knee-length inexperienced beard), a rococo Venus of Willendorf in faux-fur-print-trimmed heels (fantastically realized by CostumeWorks, Inc., even when senselessly positioned on this manufacturing), and a crinolined yellow costume with width sufficient to clear the stage and a hairdo turn into a braided, uptwisted pair of inexperienced horns. Sure, opera is as dramatic as appears served on Drag Race, however there isn’t any discernible logic to those selections save self-indulgence, and what is likely to be supposed as camp reads as self-loathing homophobia. We’re miles distant from the mischievous, tantrum-throwing, tricycle-riding manchild Hades of Ruhl’s play.

This present runs via Sunday March 10th.

Cashman Kerr Prince, educated in Classics and Comparative Literature. He’s additionally a cellist of some accomplishment.

Orpheus (Elliot Madore) proposes to Eurydice (Sydney Mancasola) Nile Scott-Studios
Orpheus (Elliot Madore) (proper) and his Double (Nicholas  Kelliher) enter the Underworld within the firm of the stones. Nile Scott Studios

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