Monteverdi's La Favola d'Orfeo

A movie adaptation by Claude Goretta

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Cast Program notes Composers & works More info


Alberto Acciarito — Assistant director

Alessandro Striggio — Scenography

Jacques Bufnoir — Stage design

Gabriella Pescucci — Costumes

Gino Quilico — Orpheus

Audrey Michael — Eurydice

Carolyn Watkinson — The messenger

Danielle Borst — Proserpine

Frangiskos Voutzinos — Pluto

François Le Roux — Shepherd I

Guy de Mey — Shepherd II

Henri Ledroit — Shepherd III

Eric Tappy — Apollo

Colette Alliot-Lugaz — The Music

Shelley Whittingham — Nymph

Filippo Degara — Charon

Program notes

Claude Goretta brings to life the age-old tale of Orpheus and Eurydice in a fresh adaptation of Monteverdi’s Orfeo.

Monteverdi’s fabled opera Orfeo was long described as the first opera to have been written. Although modern scholarship has proven this to be untrue, the work remains one of the pillars of western music history, a musical creation which laid the foundations for much of what was to come. As musicologist Jack Westrup explains, Orfeo marked a major milestone not because it broke new ground, but because imagination had taken precedence over theory. While Monteverdi may not have been a revolutionary, his music represents the culmination of centuries of musical evolution, and shows him as the clear master of both polyphony and monody.


The work opens on shepherds and nymphs singing about the love of Orpheus and Eurydice. Suddenly, a Messenger arrives, bringing sad news of the death of Eurydice, bitten by a snake when she was picking flowers. Stricken with grief, her fiancé Orpheus swears to find her in the depths of hell and bring her back with him. To reward Orpheus’ courage, Pluto decides to let Eurydice go her love, on one condition: that he does not look at her until they have successfully arrived back in the realm of the living. At the last moment, Orpheus succumbs to temptation, losing his love forever, but the god Apollo invites the young hero to join him in the heavens, where he will be able to contemplate Eurydice for eternity.

A closer look: composers and works

More info