Our programme for Orfeo is something you will want to bring home with you, with articles by Professor Harry White and David Vivian Russell on the music of Monteverdi, a piece by Helen Meany on the "Orpheus Myth", and a description by Joe Vanek on his approach to designing the classics on stage - as well, of course, as full biographies for our creative team and singers.
Our programme, too, contains a cast list and synopsis of Orfeo. So many people like to familiarise themselves with the characters' names and the basic plot of an opera prior to seeing it on stage, we are happy to provide you with the cast list and synopsis in advance:
Monteverdi’s Orfeo - Synopsis
La Musica sets the scene for us as she busies herself in lighting the stage for the wedding photograph, which will be the culmination of the celebrations to come.
The companions of Orfeo set the table for the wedding feast of Orfeo and Euridice as the first ritual of the evening. The lovers partake of the feast before a ceremony of union is enacted between them.
Orfeo is groomed and the wedding bed is garlanded in anticipation of the wedding night. Another joyful ritual in the making. But joy turns to numbed shock and sadness when the Messenger arrives to announce that Euridice has died. Orfeo takes his leave vowing to descend into Hades and bring his loved one back home. As sylvan sun rays are replaced by dark clouds, the companions of Orfeo, in a ritual of mourning, sing the loss of Euridice and the devastation that has been visited upon their friend.
As Orfeo, accompanied by Speranza, schemes to persuade Caronte to allow him to cross over into Hades, the mythical Boatman is processing the seemingly endless stream of the dead through his immigration post to the dockside where he will ferry them across the river Styx. Orfeo tries in vain to gain admittance and finally he prevails when Caronte, enchanted by the music, falls into a deep sleep enabling Orfeo to slip through the forbidden gate.
In a back room of the ghostly hotel that is Hades, Proserpina pleads with her lover, Plutone to allow Orfeo to take Euridice back to life and Plutone agrees but announces to all the staff that his condition is that Orfeo can only lead Euridice from the Underworld if he refrains from turning to look at her in the process. Orfeo agrees but as the ghostly elevator takes the lovers through the circles of hell towards the light again, he persuades himself that he is being tricked by Plutone and an unfortunate intervention at a crucial moment causes him to turn towards Euridice and thus lose her forever.
Back at the scene of the wedding feast – it might be a hundred years since we were here before – Orfeo gives full rein to his distress. The wedding table with its gutted candles and the sorry abandoned bed bear witness to the bleak future that awaits Orfeo. Apollo appears in a blaze of light and sings to Orfeo about the transience of earthly delights and although he will not see Euridice again in this world Orfeo, by trusting in Apollo and his divine providence, will be united in spirit with the woman he loves. Orfeo’s agreement to this entreaty allows the opera to end on a note of harmony and sober resolution.
Click here to see a full list of creatives, cast, band and crew for OTC's production of Orfeo (pdf):