by Paula Citron
This season, the five operas at Glimmerglass are all inspired by the Myth of Orpheus. Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo has been given the most controversial treatment by director Christopher Alden.
At the heart of Alden’s over-busy symbolism, Orfeo is an artist at the mercy of patrons. A grand salon becomes hell for Orfeo and Eurydice, performed by tenor Michael Slattery and soprano Megan Monaghan, because they are humiliated and tortured for the amusement of the guests.
The amazing Slattery, who can do astonishing contortions with his voice, is almost an hysteric, his body physically twisted with angst. Monaghan has the pretty sound her fragile character needs.
Alden’s take is certainly provocative, but his focus on decadence and debauchery did cause a significant number of walk-outs after intermission. Fortunately, he has Australian conductor Antony Walker in the pit whose intelligent reading of Monteverdi’s marvellous use of instruments makes for rich music.
The Glimmerglass Opera Festival continues until Aug. 28.
From Cooperstown, New York, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.