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Visiting Aucoin’s Underworld – The Boston Musical Intelligencer – Lyric Say

Boston space favorite-son composer Matthew Aucoin reached a pinnacle of recognition in November of 2021 on the Metropolitan Opera, the place his opera Eurydice (e-book and libretto by Sarah Ruhl) vividly and artfully retold the Orpheus-plus fantasy from the tragedienne’s perspective. The underworld has by no means since been the identical.

“It’s not surprising that a tale about the greatest musician in history, a man who could make the very stones weep when he performed, keeps appealing to his descendants. The scenario offers composers a wedding party, a tragic death, an evocation of what lies beyond, an attempt at resurrection, a plangent lament — opportunities to shine, and to place themselves in a grand tradition.”  NYT 2021

For the Boston Lyric Opera’s manufacturing, Aucoin decreased the orchestration calls for significantly, however based on our interview topic, award-winning bass-baritone Mark S. Doss*, who performs the newly added position of Eurydice’s father, “…the sound is quite incredible.”

The present runs March 1st by the tenth on the Huntington Theater. Tickets HERE.

FLE: Mark, I didn’t know there was a father on this legend.

MSD: The librettist Sarah Ruhl added the position of Eurydice’s father. The connection between the 2 is sort of profound and goes into some element. I take the daddy to be what Bob Carlisle describes in his well-known tune, “Butterfly Kisses,” and that’s the profound love between a father and a daughter.

There’s so much within the story concerning the interactions between gods and people and Sarah desires to go deeper. Over the tail that she’s spun, Matthew Aucoin, the composer, hasn’t actually ventured too distant from the e-book that she wrote on the topic.

Do you as the daddy work together with anybody aside from Eurydice?

There’s an ensemble in Act 2 the place I sing together with the 2 Orpheus characters (me within the underworld and them within the upperworld), however aside from Eurydice it’s solely the three singing stones that I work together with on stage.

Eurydice (Sydney Mancasola), Father (Mark S. Doss, ) Nile Scott Studios picture

Are you alive or lifeless?

Truly I’m lifeless. Mainly, I’m speaking to Eurydice from the underworld. She’s about to get married to Orfeo. And so he begins out very prominently writing a letter to her.  There’s kind of a mail system within the underworld. Hades, being the boss, makes use of the daddy’s letters to Eurydice as a software to win her over.

“So I have a letter from your father,” Hades sings. “That’s impossible (knowing he is dead), Eurydice responds.  Then she grabs the letter, and looking at it says, “It’s his handwriting.”

A few of this sounds slightly bit cutesy. Is it severe? Or is there some ironic mild therapy to the story.

It’s a mix of these two. I imply, after I first learn by the story,

I believed it was cute, and a bit foolish generally, however then in context you notice it balances out the story and brings out the depths of it, so there’s fairly a powerful improvement of relationships all through the opera.

Once more, when all of my fantastic colleagues and I did a read-through, I had this sense that it related to one thing like Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle. That was as soon as on the prime of the hit charts, and for me it has numerous correlation, particularly within the remaining verse: “…She’ll make a promise and I’ll give her away. Standing in the bride room just starring at her, she asks me what I’m thinking, and I said I’m not sure… I just feel like I losing my baby girl…” The entire position is type of trying glass into the muse of an intimate father-daughter relationship.

Tears would come to my eyes listening to Bob Carlisle’s phrases and music in Butterfly Kisses, which is likely one of the prime tunes chosen for the father-daughter dance at weddings, and that builds much more strongly my characterization when singing the phrases and music of Sarah Ruhl and Matthew Aucoin. 

Is this particular tune interpolated into the rating?

Under no circumstances. It simply helped me internalize the connection. Within the previous mythologies, Eurydice stepped on a snake, it bites her, and he or she dies. After which she goes to the underworld; Orpheus tries to rescue her. He’s given permission by Hades to guide her out, however he can’t look again. He does look again, not listening to her and pondering Hades has tricked him, then she fades again into the underworld.

Sarah provides an attention-grabbing twist: You overlook the whole lot if you arrive within the underworld. This is sensible since our previous might torment us. So initially, Eurydice and I can’t bear in mind something. The daddy depends on system to attach sure letters associated to animals and feeling to recollect his daughter’s identify, and he passes that on to Eurydice so she as soon as extra recollects Orpheus. And when he cites the symbolic tree that she would discover shade below in her yard, she exclaims, “Oh, you are my father!”  She is considerably unhappy to be leaving him when she is aware of that Orpheus shall be coming to attempt to save her. 

When his try fails, each father and daughter tragically miss the chance to unite whereas their reminiscences are in tact, so that they resort to what the Stones put forth as the method of dipping your self within the river to overlook all of your reminiscences.


Matthew’s music guides us by these encounters fairly terribly. He has put collectively a tremendous rating. At first look, I believed, ‘Well, it looks nice. It’s acquired lengthy sufficient traces. Then my subsequent step was to start evaluation on my position. I noticed that the Father has 105 phrases; that’s not a nasty position. However then I want to review the orchestration. I went by it on my software program on all of the completely different ranges. Understanding the composer’s vocabulary permits me to usher in some additional issues that is probably not in my traces, and since these little dots on that web page are usually not actually music.

I’m very analytical, I feel that’s how I succeeded in getting a fame for doing trendy music. Working with Matthew because the conductor and composer appears like a grasp class. That is much more intense as a result of every time you undergo the rehearsal, you could have the composer who’s conducting and he’s fairly a very good conductor as properly. It’s been a tremendous expertise.

Do you assume that you just’re extra deeply ready than most singers?

Effectively, due to the method I am going by, having completed a task preparation grasp class on the College of Michigan, that’s doable. It’s not simply pedagogy, although. As an illustration, I’ve enjoyable discovering graphic and bodily methods to know and really feel polyrhythms like three towards two, or 4 towards 3, or Matthew numerous occasions makes use of elements of 5 inside measures.  Generally I throw individuals for a loop with 4 completely different metronome techniques set to the identical beat. On a giant display I’ve the notes shifting alongside, and subsequent to it’s an App with a conductor’s sample, and voice metronome counting out the numbers of the beats, and a Soundbrenner App that connects the beat pulse to vibrations which can be felt on a wristwatch.  As an added bodily connection I sing the music (whereas watching these Apps at work) juggling one heavy ball or three common ones, with a weighted hula hoop flying round my waist.


What’s it like as a bass to work together with a satan who’s a excessive tenor?

Effectively, it’s actually completely different. Once I first heard the Hades as a excessive shrieking tenor on the Met broadcast model, I believed, wow, that is very highly effective…it’s up within the stratosphere. It’s tormenting and piercing in a method that indicators the underworld. Possibly that is what it feels prefer to be lifeless. As in my line at the start, “And there are strange high-pitched noises, like a tea kettle always boiling over”, Hades places us into some kind of a very troublesome place.

What’s it like for Orpheus to have a counter-tenor Doppelganger singing circles round, him?

They produce some painful, and difficult-to-sing dissonances that come from singing a half step aside generally. It grates on the nerves, however it may well serve to disclose emotional issues, particularly once they’re coping with misery.

For this BLO decreased model, how a lot is the orchestra scaled again from what you heard on the Met?

It went from 70 gamers on the Metropolitan Opera to 17 for this manufacturing. You’ll assume you’ll miss one thing; the Huntington Theater might be lower than 1 / 4 of the dimensions of the Met, so the discount is like day and night time. However what I’ve heard thus far, (particularly finally night time’s gown), the sound is sort of unbelievable. As Matthew himself has stated, “I can’t believe the sound, it’s really fantastic.”

I don’t assume Matthew minimize any instrumental or vocal traces; that is principally the elimination of doublings. They’re able to get out the essence of the rating as he put it collectively.

The Huntington was designed as a spoken-word theater. It will likely be attention-grabbing to see and listen to it after the current renovations.

My talking voice, (and I do have a spoken part that I challenge over music)  appears to resonate properly there…perhaps that’s one motive they selected me!

So how advanced is the surroundings?

It’s a sq. housing that has some backdrops that go up and all the way down to create a taking part in area. The costumes are very picturesque for the stone figures. They evoke Star Trek.

It feels like out of your description that despite the fact that there are moments of silliness and comedy, there are precise human feelings between father and daughter and between the lovers.

For certain. And the stones present slightly comedian aid, however in addition they may give us some profound statements collectively as an ensemble who take the place of a Greek Refrain. And we’ve got a really, very excessive soprano who places out some notes just like the queen of the night time

You’re clearly a considerate artist, not simply one among these singers who merely memorizes his personal line. It feels like you possibly can conduct it and carry out all of the roles too.

At Michigan State, for a few years, I directed college students in as Opera Workshop course, serving to them get into their roles. I take this very critically. And I did take choral conducting in undergrad, so I discover it very helpful.

Maggie Finnegan, Alexis Peart, Neal Ferreira (Nile-Scott-Studios picture)

The Huntington Theatre
Friday, March 1, 2024 | 7:30PM
Sunday, March 3, 2024 | 3PM
Wednesday, March 6, 2024 | 7:30PM
Friday, March 8, 2024 | 7:30PM
Sunday, March 10, 2024 | 3PM

Tickets HERE.

Sung in English dialogue with English surtitles
Operating time: 2 hours and 20 minutes, together with one 20-minute intermission

Music by Matthew Aucoin
Libretto by Sarah Ruhl
Primarily based on the play by Sarah Ruhl

A brand new association commissioned by
Boston Lyric Opera and Opera Grand Rapids

Unique Orchestration Commissioned by The Metropolitan Opera and Los Angeles Opera. Developed by The Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Heart Theater New Works Program with assist from the Opera America Repertory Improvement Grant.

Eurydice SYDNEY MANCASOLA, Orpheus ELLIOT MADORE, Father MARK S. DOSS, Orpheus Double NICHOLAS KELLIHER, Hades DAVID PORTILLO, Little Stone/Ensemble MAGGIE FINNEGAN, Large Stone/Ensemble ALEXIS PEART, Loud Stone/Ensemble NEAL FERREIRA,  Ensemble JUNHAN CHOI

*A Grammy Award winner, Doss has been performing for 35 years, an exercise that has taken him to greater than 60 worldwide opera homes, together with La Scala, Covent Backyard, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera Chicago, Berlin Staatsoper, Wiener Staatsoper, Teatro Actual Madrid, to call just a few, and numerous live performance halls.
On his web site (, you could discover his biography, by which what instantly leaps to the attention is the artist’s monumental versatility. In his case, calling himself a bass-baritone means precisely that he sings each pure baritone elements, reminiscent of Rigoletto, Nabucco, Rigoletto, Germont, and Alfio, and true bass roles, reminiscent of Méphistophélès in Faust, Boito’s Mefistofele, and Zaccaria in Nabucco. His repertoire is in depth, with over 100 roles to his credit score, and ranges from baroque (e.g. Argante in Rinaldo, the bass half in The Messiah, and so on.) to up to date opera, reminiscent of “Eurydice” in Boston.

The summer time of 2023 noticed the discharge of his newest album, “Welcome To My World” (Çedille Data), the place, accompanied by pianist Ken Smith, he performs 21 picks coping with a number of musical genres and spanning over three centuries.

He’s additionally a recipient of the Nationwide Institute for Music Theatre’s George London Opera Prize, and Planet Africa’s Leisure Award, which acknowledges his achievements as an artist and for being a constructive position mannequin for teenagers in each Canada and america.

Orpheus (Elliot Madore) in entrance, and his double (Nicholas Kelliher) enter the Underworld (Nile Scott Studios picture)

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