L'Orfeo (1978)

  |  Music, Drama

L'Orfeo (1978) Poster

This opera tells the fable of Orpheus, a demigod with a talent for music. When his bride Eurydice dies, he decides to seek her soul in the Underworld. However, things will not be so easier than he initially thinks.


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22 December 2011 | TheLittleSongbird
| My personal favourite of the Monteverdi-Ponnelle-Harnencourt trilogy
Over the past three days I watched L'Incoronazione Di Poppea, L'Orfeo and Il Ritorno D'Ulisse, directed by Jean Pierre Ponnelle, composed by Claudio Monteverdi and conducted by Nikolaus Harnencourt. And I have to say I enjoyed them all.

But if I did have to say which one I enjoyed the most, it was L'Orfeo. Then again, I could be biased, seeing that of the three L'Orfeo is my personal favourite.

I think Ponnelle deserves a lot of credit. Staging an antique opera such as this is a challenge, mainly due to how times have changed, but Ponnelle stages things in a way to make it very authentic. For example he uses the chorus as a 17th century audience as well, which means not only are they taking part but they are reacting to it, a risky move but one that paid off.

I also loved some of the subtle humour, especially with the singing skeleton.

The production looks incredible too. The costuming is sumptuous and the settings are lovely too with a dreamy mythical quality to them. The sound, picture quality and camera work also impress, and I almost forgot how symbolic this production is particularly with the very effective decision to make Euridice very young and beautiful, making the tragedy of her death even more believable than it already is.

Musically, there is plenty of style and attention to musicality. Harnencourt's conducting gives the performance its emotional substance also. The principal singing is excellent. Phillippe Huttenlocher's Orfeo is a very human portrayal. Dietlinde Turban is gorgeous as Euridice, and Trudelise Schmidt once again is very charismatic. Of the singing, the resonance of the basso notes of Hans Franzen as Charonte really won me over.

All in all, simply wonderful. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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Plot Summary


Music | Drama




Country of Origin

Switzerland, West Germany

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