by Paula Citron
Glimmerglass Opera is featuring five works inspired by the theme of Orpheus.
Philip Glass’ fascinating 1993 Orphée has been given a stunning production by director Sam Helfrich and his creative team. Everything about Orphée is masterful, including the atmospheric Glass’ score, conducted by Anne Manson, and the excellent singers headed by baritone Philip Cutlip as Orphée.
Glass based his own expressionist libretto about an artist in crisis on Jean Cocteau’s revered 1950 film. The poet hero, once the darling of society, is now considered a has-been. In his fragile state, Orphée ignores his wife Eurydice and becomes enamoured with La Princesse who symbolizes death. His journey of self-discovery is an existentialist hell.
The brilliance of Helfrich’s imaginative directing is how he uses mirror image body doubles for the five main characters. The interaction of these ten personas, half vocal, half silent, makes for very compelling theatre.
Glimmerglass Opera continues until Aug. 28.
From Cooperstown, New York, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.