Composed at the very beginning of the 17th century and premiered in Mantova in 1607, Monteverdi's L'Orfeo is one of the very first operas in history—and the earliest still performed today. Eminent early music specialist Rinaldo Alessandrini conducts the masterpiece here with some of his favorite collaborators—all tinged by the wonderfully idiosyncratic stylings of avant-garde master Robert Wilson!
Inspired by a Greek myth, L'Orfeo's story starts in the woods, where Orfeo (Georg Nigl), son of Apollo and musician of renown, marries the beautiful Euridice (Roberta Invernizzi). But a messenger (Sara Mingardo) brings disastrous news soon thereafter: while picking flowers to adorn her long hair, Euridice has fallen victim to a fatal snake bite. Unable to accept her demise, he retrieves her from Hades, charming the guards of hell and underworld queen Proserpina in turn. But he loses her again—this time forever—when he disobeys Pluto’s order not to look back until he has led her safely from the underworld.
Clad in shades of gray and black, with white face paint and exaggerated features, the cast populates the characteristically singular avant-garde world of a Robert Wilson production, declaiming and walking with gentle, almost dancelike motion. More than ever, Wilson's allusive scenes are rife with symbolism and character.
With the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists
Insula Orchestra and accentus choir