Back in the Spring, when I accepted the offer to sing in the chorus for Orfeo, there was a hint of "what am I getting myself into" in my thoughts. The last time I was involved in an opera was when I was about thirteen, I was in the children's chorus of La Bohème, and the last time I tried to memorize anything sung was nearly ten years ago. So the thought of memorizing nearly twenty minutes of Italian was a bit daunting. Add into that a concert with Da Camera, and then a week later a full production of Solomon, putting an opera production in the middle of that might be considered insane! By as one of my choristers at my church keeps reminding me "this is the life you chose". And so it is - and I don't regret it.
This tiny production of Orfeo is quickly becoming the highlight of the year for me. Monteverdi's music is of course fantastic, the principles, which include Suzie Leblanc and Colin Balzer in the title roles are absolutely amazing, the period instrument orchestra led by Richard Sparks is incredible, and the stage direction of Ellen Hargis has been, to say the least, inspirational in every way. On our first full run of Acts I and II, we had at least one chorus member in tears from the emotional impact of the music and staging. The hope is we can pass this on to the audience, which will be surrounding the thrust stage.
A little taste from Orfeo as seen here directed by Jordi Savall:
At this moment in the opera - A messenger is telling Orfeo about the death of his new wife, Eurodice, who was bit by a poisonous snake while picking flowers for Orfeo's hair.