Critic’s Choice

By Lawrence Budmen

"Orpheus and Eurydice" by Federico Cervelli.

“Orpheus and Eurydice” by Federico Cervelli.

Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice is one of the landmark works in the history of opera. Replacing the stilted conventions of opera seria with a more fully integrated fusion of music, dance and drama, Gluck’s setting of the Orpheus legend is replete with beautiful and deeply affecting arias, choruses and ballet music.

Although excerpts from the score are frequently performed and recorded, the opera is rarely staged, even at major houses. Florida Grand Opera begins a seven-performance run of this masterpiece Saturday night.

The role of Orfeo, the minstrel who journeys into the underworld to bring his deceased wife Euridice back to the world of the living, was originally written for a castrato. In a more humane world, that species of singer has long been extinct. For many years, the role was played by mezzo-sopranos and contraltos. 

With the emergence of numerous countertenors in recent decades, that vocal type has become the preferred casting for the protagonist, offering something closer to Gluck’s original intentions. Acclaimed countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo sings the role in five performances with Miami soprano Eglise Gutiérrez as Euridice.

In what should be a fascinating comparison, the second cast reverts back to the mezzo-soprano version. Lindsay Ammann, who has sung secondary roles at the Met and leads in Europe, will sing Orfeo in two performances (on Sunday and Friday, March 23). FGO young artist studio member Jessica E. Jones is Euridice. Soprano Evan Kardon, also an FGO young artist, sings the goddess of love, Amor, in all performances. Members of Dimensions Dance Theatre will perform the ballet sequences.

Anthony Barrese (who has previously led FGO productions of The Pearl Fishers and Norma) will conduct. The production (from Seattle Opera) is directed and choreographed by Keturah Stickann.

Florida Grand Opera presents Orfeo ed Euridice  7 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, and 8 p.m. Tuesday and March 23 and 24 at the Arsht Center in Miami; and 7:30 p.m. March 29 and 31 at the Broward Center in Ft. Lauderdale. Anthony Roth Costanzo and Eglise Gutiérrez  sing the title roles on Saturday, Tuesday, March 24, 29 and 31. Lindsay Ammann and Jessica E. Jones star on Sunday and March 23.; 800-741-1010.



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Fri Mar 16, 2018
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