On the stage of the Hvorostovsky Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Theatre on February 16, 17, and 18, the premiere series of performances of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s opera Orfeo ed Euridice will take place.
Music director and conductor of the show is Dmitri Yurovsky, stage director is Irina Lychagina, set designer and costume designer is Karina Avtandilova.
The plot of the opera Orfeo ed Euridice is based on the ancient myth about a great musician whose enchanting singing set trees and rocks in motion and his beloved wife. The young woman died from a snake bite, and Orpheus dared to descend into the underworld of Hades to recover his beloved wife. In the Krasnoyarsk production, the tragic ancient Greek story is complemented by an equally tragic historical plot. It’s related to the wife of Louis XVI, Queen of France Marie Antoinette who was executed with guillotine in revolutionary Paris in 1793. Gluck was Marie Antoinette's first music teacher; she loved his works and patronized the composer when he worked in the French capital. She generously gave him money for the opera Orfeo ed Euridice.
Production director Irina Lychagina named the show a “multi-storey structure”:
“Our performance is about misunderstandings even between the closest people, about fickleness and following the impulsive movements of one’s soul, which sometimes take them too far; about regret, loss and feeling of guilt, which, along with love, makes people do inconceivable things – descend into hell. This is not the story of Orpheus and Eurydice alone - this story is combined with an invented plot as if it could happen to the French queen Marie Antoinette on the eve of her leaving Versailles. The servants throw a party for her before they all go to Paris and put on a play based on the ancient Greek myth. The fate of Marie Antoinette is a kind of reflection of this myth. The queen did not understand the situation, she overestimated the ones and underestimated the others. There are other parallels: the severed head of the queen and the head of Orpheus floating down the river and singing after he had been torn to pieces by maenads.
Orpheus haunted Gluck for many years. In the first edition of the opera (Vienna, 1762), the composer gave the title role to a male alto and made a happy ending contrary to the myth (where Orpheus still loses Eurydice). In the second edition (Paris, 1774), the text was translated into French and revised, and the composer expanded the part of Orpheus and gave it to a tenor singer. It was then that the famous flute solo appeared, nowadays known as Gluck’s Melody.
In 1859, Hector Berlioz resumed work on the opera, and Orpheus was sung by a woman - prima donna Pauline Viardot. Since then, there has been a tradition of the male title part being performed by a female singer. This is exactly what will happen in the Krasnoyarsk version: the part of Orpheus will be sung by a mezzo-soprano soloist of the Krasnoyarsk Opera and Ballet Theatre Victoria Kangina and the guest from the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Music Theatre Yekaterina Lukash.