Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld
Opéra-bouffe staged by Laurent Pelly, conducted by Marc Minkowski – With Natalie Dessay and Yann Beuron (Lyon, 1998)
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Laurent Pelly — Stage director
Agathe Melinand — Rewriting of the dialogs
Chantal Thomas — Set designer
Michel Dussarat — Costume designer
Laurent Pelly — Costume designer
Dominique Boivin — Choreographer
Joël Adam — Lighting
Natalie Dessay — Eurydice
Yann Beuron — Orpheus
Laurent Naouri — Jupiter
Jean-Paul Fouchécourt — Pluto / Aristaeus
Martine Olmeda — Public Opinion
Steven Cole — John Styx
Cassandre Berthon — Cupid
Etienne Lescroart — Mercury
Virginie Pochon — Diana
Lydie Pruvot — Juno
In his famous "opera bouffe" Orpheus in the Underworld, Jacques Offenbach explores in a comic way the tragic story of lovers Orpheus and Eurydice. It is staged here by Laurent Pelly at the Opéra National de Lyon and performed by Natalie Dessay (Eurydice) and Yann Beuron (Orpheus).
In this funny version of Orphée's ancient myth, his highly famous complaint "I have lost my Eurydice" seems to be a victory roar... In this opera composed after a libretto by Hector Crémieux and Ludovic Halévy, premiered in 1858 at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, Offenbach and the librettists give characters back to life in a highly humorous way.
It is the story of a domestic squabble between bitter lovers Eurydice and Orpheus: Eurydice is fed up with Orpheus musical talent, but they cannot break off. So that Orpheus decides to ask shepherd Aristaeus – who is Pluto himself disguised – for his help. He wants him to seduce Eurydice to lead her die in a trap. Eurydice dies and goes to the Underworld. Everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, but Public Opinion comes to moralize Orpheus: he must save his honour in saving Eurydice...
The fanciful staging perfectly highlights Offenbach's Genius and humor: indeed he was the composer who created the genre of French "opéra bouffe". Natalie Dessay and Yann Beuron remarkably perform this opera with voices full of expressiveness and a beautiful stage presence. They really transform this domestic squabble into a funny story.