I anticipated a wonderful experience as I headed for the Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago to see Orphée et Eurydice by Christoph Willibald Gluck which is launching Lyric Opera’s 63rd season. I would be seeing one of my favorite operas, Orphée et Eurydice collaborating with the Joffrey, one of my favorite ballet companies. However, the magnificence and brilliance of the actual performance was beyond my expectation. A “not to be missed” production, there are only five remaining performances. (See below).
In the pre-opera lecture, which I always enjoy, David Buch shared that while 60 operas have been written with the theme of the Orpheus and Eurydice theme, only Gluck’s continues to be performed. Gluck first wrote Orfeo ed Euridice in Italian in 1762. This production is the Lyric premiere of the opera that was rewritten in 1774 for a Paris audience and included extended dance scene is set to beautiful music and a reset of the hero’s music as high tenor, also known as tenore di grazia.
The Greek myth, somewhat modified and updated, centers on Orphée (Dmitry Korchak/Lyric debut), whose singing was so beautiful that it could charm the fierce guardians of the Underworld. Encouraged by the god of love, Amour (Lauren Snouffer), Orphée travels to Hades to bring his dead wife, Eurydice (Andriana Chuchman), back to earth. Each of this performers were perfect in their roles with gorgeous voices and acting that was convincing.
The magnificent performance that I enjoyed was the result of many elements working together, perfectly. Most noteworthy is the collaboration with the The Joffrey Ballet, especially the 43 dancers of The Joffrey Ballet, prepared by director-choreographer John Neumeier. He is the legendary, longtime director of the Hamburg Ballet, and, as director, choreographer, and designer of the sets, costumes, and lighting, has created a magnificently unified vision of this work. Touchingly, he dedicated this production to the memory of Sybil Shearer, whose work was an inspiration to him. This is a co-production with LA Opera and Staatsoper Hamburg, and the audiences of those two companies will also have the joy of experiencing this production.
While I was mesmerized by the dancing, the costumes, lighting and sets, the unseen Lyric Opera Orchestra & Chorus conducted by Harry Bicket, provided gorgeous music which brought all the parts together.
The collaboration with Joffrey Ballet continues with the announcement that “Joffrey will become the resident dance company at the Lyric Opera House (20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago) at the start of the 2020/21 Season.”
Running time is approximately two hours and 20 minutes, including intermission.
An exciting new development is that, ” Lyric Opera of Chicago is pleased to announce that Thirteen Productions LLC for WNET New York has selected the world-renowned opera company’s premiere production of the 1774 Paris version of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, created by the legendary choreographer John Neumeier and featuring The Joffrey Ballet, to be part of the prestigious Great Performances series on PBS.” Be sure to watch.