Monday, May 14, 2012

Telemann's Orpheus at the City Opera


I went to see Orpheus (not that one... or that one... or that one) at the City Opera and wrote about it for Bachtrack.
The New York City Opera has spent the season reinventing itself from a large company with a large theater to a peripatetic one presenting small works. Perhaps it was apt that they closed their season with Telemann’s Orpheus. Not only was it one of the first stagings of any Telemann opera in the United States: it also presents a radically reworking of a familiar story that seems unwilling to confine itself to one geographic location.
Click here to read the whole thing. It's an intriguing work but not ultimately a spectacularly rewarding one, at least in this production (though Jennifer Rowley is really great in the central role!). It was also an extraordinarily odd choice to produce. (I heard that it resulted from George Steel meeting someone who has worked on it extensively. Not from research in "baroque operas we should put on.") I'm all in favor of choosing weird and random repertory, so on the one hand I'm proud of them for doing it. But on the other, are we running before we are walking here? I mean, when it comes to recently discovered operas, New York (unless you count New Haven) hasn't gotten a staging of La finta pazza yet, which is a much more important work. When you have such a tiny season each choice has to be good, and this one while it was promising didn't quite pay off.

Also be aware that while the running time is listed on the website as two and a half hours, it was just shy of three on Saturday. El Museo del Barrio's theater is functional enough; I was sitting too close to the front to judge the acoustic properly.

photo © Carol Rosegg

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