LA Opera presents the U.S. premiere of landmark 1619 opera The Death of Orpheus
(Los Angeles) December 3, 2019 — In Greek mythology, Orpheus, greatest of all musicians, loses his beloved Eurydice in the Underworld. So, what happens next? To find out, travel with LA Opera to the lair of Bacchus, with the U.S. premiere of Stefano Landi’s landmark 1619 opera The Death of Orpheus (La Morte d’Orfeo).
In a production performed by members of LAO's Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, the baroque jewel is presented as part of the Eurydice Found celebration. The opera shows how Orpheus deals with his grief: by renouncing the company of women. This incurs the wrath of Bacchus, who orders his rowdy female followers, the Maenads, to destroy Orpheus. But in a surprise twist, the gods have a different destiny in mind for the tragic hero.
There will be three performances from January 17 through 19 at El Cid, the historic Silver Lake performance venue (4212 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90029). Each performance will be an immersive experience, with food and drink available before (and during!) the show. It's a mix of dinner party and opera, with a little comedy thrown in.
About the Opera
Created in the infancy of the art form, The Death of Orpheus is considered a milestone in the development of the operatic genre. Written only 12 years after the premiere of Claudio Monteverdi's Orfeo, the first operatic masterpiece, Landi's opera picks up the story at the point where Monteverdi's ends.
The Death of Orpheus was the first Roman-style secular opera, featuring substantial ensembles and choruses as well as prominent roles for gods, shepherds, allegorical figures and magical creatures.
Landi notably introduced, for the first time, comic elements into the Orpheus legend, a subject which had already been adapted by several opera composers before him.
Despite the morbid title (and a second meeting of Orpheus and Eurydice in Hades which goes just as badly as the first), the opera has a happy ending. Along the way, there’s a birthday party for Orpheus, a comic drinking song for the ferryman of Hades, and even a trio of singing breezes.
The Creative Team
Baroque specialist and six-time Grammy nominee Stephen Stubbs makes his LAO debut as conductor, leading an ensemble of musicians from the LA Opera Orchestra supplemented with baroque specialists. The production, set in the present day, is directed by Sara E. Widzer with designs by Leon Wiebers, both making their LAO debuts.
With dozens of characters, the cast is made up primarily of singers from the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, most of them performing multiple roles:
- tenor Anthony Ciaramitaro as Orpheus
- soprano Erica Petrocelli as Eurydice and as the sea goddess Thetis
- mezzo-soprano Taylor Raven as Bacchus and other roles
- mezzo-soprano Gabriela Flores as the goddess Aurora and as Orpheus's mother Calliope
- tenor Robert Stahley as Orpheus's father Apollo and as the messenger Fileno
- soprano Sarah Vautour as Nisa, one of the Maenads, and other roles
- baritone Michael J. Hawk as Charon (ferryman of the Underworld), as the River Hebro and as Fury
- soprano Sylvia d'Eramo as Fosforo (the Morning Star) and other roles
Additional guest artists include countertenor Jacob Ingbar as Mercury and bass-baritone Christopher Carbin as Fate and as Jove.
There will be three performances of The Death of Orpheus:
- Friday, January 17, 2020, at 7:30pm (6:30pm dinner)
- Saturday, January 18, 2020, at 7:30pm (6:30pm dinner)
- Sunday, January 19, 2020, at 7pm (6pm dinner)
These performances will be immersive experiences that take place at El Cid, the entertainment hideaway located in the heart of Silver Lake (4212 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90029). The opera is preceded by dinner one hour before each performance begins. Performance tickets cost $25 each, with food and drinks billed separately, and are available at ElCidSunset.com.
The approximate running time of the opera is 90 minutes, performed without intermission.
The Death of Orpheus is performed in Italian with projected English translations.
About Eurydice Found
Inspired by LA Opera's world premiere of Eurydice by composer Matthew Aucoin and librettist Sarah Ruhl (February 1 through 23, 2020), artists, scholars and community members across Los Angeles will come together in the first three months of 2020 for a festival dedicated to new perspectives on the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Since the new opera unfolds from the heroine's point of view, the festival will celebrate female artists and the female viewpoint. Eurydice Found will upend the ancient myth through a wide range of performances, conversations and happenings. Learn more at LAOpera.org/festival.
LA Opera Media Contact
Vanessa Flores Waite
Director of Communications
THANK YOU TO OUR GENEROUS DONORS AND PARTNERS
The Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program is generously underwritten by the Colburn Foundation and by Eugene and Marilyn Stein.
Special support for young artist stipends is graciously provided by The Lenore and Richard Wayne Young Artist Fellowship.
Additional gifts from donors to the Young Artist Circle.
The program was created with funding from the Flora L. Thornton Foundation.