BY CHRISTOPH WILLIBALD GLUCK
LIBRETTO BY RANIERI DE’ CALZABIGI
LESLIE DALA, CONDUCTOR
NANCY HERMISTON, DIRECTOR
MEMBERS OF VANCOUVER OPERA ORCHESTRA
One of Gluck’s most beloved works, this exquisite opera explores the power of music and love in our lives.
Premiered in 1762 for Empress Maria Theresa, it was the first of Gluck’s ‘reform’ operas, in which the complex plots of opera seria were replaced with naturalness and simplicity in both the music and the drama. Its immediate popularity lasted for centuries and it became one of the most influential works for composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Wagner.
The opera, based on a mythological subject, tells the tale of the legendary poet and musician, Orfeo. The opera begins at the grave of Euridice, Orfeo’s young bride. First devastated, and then angry, Orfeo rages against the cruelty of the gods and determines to take back Euridice from them. Cupid intervenes and thus begins Orfeo’s famous adventure into the Underworld, where, with his music, he must woo the Furies in order to gain entrance into Hades and retrieve his beloved Euridice. Cupid has set one condition though – Orfeo must not look at her as he leads her out of Hell. Euridice, confused and upset at his coldness, begs for a glance from her beloved. Unable to deny her request, he looks back and watches as she dies once more. However, Cupid believing in the power of true love and demonstrating the power of the Gods, relents and Euridice is saved.
Hell, the Furies and Cupid, Hope and Despair are all combined with poignant music …
Banner illustration: Roan Shankaruk