Monteverdi, Orfeo (John Eliot Gardiner cond. English Baroque Soloists)
Orpheus has fascinated composers of “opera” since the earliest days of the art. Even before there was opera (see Gardiner’s piece on Orfeo in the Guardian here), there was Orfeo, and it is considered the earliest surviving piece.
Early opera isn’t my first love. It is probably fair to say it is harder work – you could sit and shut your eyes through much Mozart or Verdi or Wagner and the music would tell you everything. When it is done as well as this
There was some attempts to stage everything; this wasn’t altogether successful and sometimes getting the choir on and off stage proved a smidge noisy. Rethinking footwear might have solved this. At times, however, a number of coups were pulled off. Gianluca Buratto slumped over a keyboard and leaping to life; nymphs dancing around Gardiner as he continued conducting; Francesa Aspromonte appearing from amidst the promenaders.
Three very strong principals: Krystian Adam (Orpheus), Mariana Flores (Eurydice/Hope), and in particular Francesa Aspromonte (Music/Messenger) were able to fill the space easily. Gianluca Buratto (Charon/Pluto) provided rich and full bass. This was as good an account as one might hope to hear. Sitting somewhere between side-on and behind, I was surprised at the sound quality. A memorable evening at the Royal Albert Hall.
Krystian Adam Orpheus
Mariana Flores Eurydice/Hope
Francesca Aspromonte Music/Messenger
Gianluca Buratto Charon/Pluto
Francesca Boncompagni Persephone
Andrew Tortise Apollo/Shepherd 1
Esther Brazil Nymph, Proms debut artist
Gareth Treseder Shepherd 2/Spirit 2/Echo
Nicholas Mulroy Spirit 1
James Hall Shepherd 3
David Shipley Shepherd 4/Spirit 3
English Baroque Soloists
John Eliot Gardiner conductor