BUXTON FESTIVAL 2014: Orfeo ed Euridice by Gluck - REVIEW

Barbara Bargnesi & Daisy Brown in Orfeo Ed Euridice at Buxton Festival. Photo: Robert Workman.

Barbara Bargnesi & Daisy Brown in Orfeo Ed Euridice at Buxton Festival. Photo: Robert Workman.

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This new production for the Buxton Festival was done in modern dress.

It took me a few minutes to adjust to Michael Chance’s lovely countertenor singing this beautiful music in Italian while dressed as a pop idol in a white suit with a guitar. But it worked. The cast did full justice to the beautiful music in this musical language and there were easily visible translations on screen.

Michael Chance and Daisy Brown in Orfeo Ed Euridice at Buxton Festival. Photo: Robert Workman.

Michael Chance and Daisy Brown in Orfeo Ed Euridice at Buxton Festival. Photo: Robert Workman.

The chorus was great and very versatile, singing and dancing with quick changes onstage. They started as pop fans, were shrouded in black as the Furies of the underworld, then as heaven was a beach they stripped down to colourful beachwear. They ended up as athletic modern dancers.

The simple and inspired set consisted of large illuminated letters spelling ‘Orfeo’ which were moved around by the chorus to form appropriate shapes including forbidding rocks in the underworld, sunny places to lounge on the beach and at the end an extra letter produced ‘Amore’.

Daisy Brown, as Amore, sang wonderfully, her soprano clear and pure.

The story of Orfeo being allowed to bring his beloved out of the underworld so long as he does not look at her is well known.

Barbara Bargnesi, as Euridice, ably conveyed the anguish this caused her. Orfeo gives in, embraces her and thereby loses her.

Michael Chance sang the famous aria ‘che faro senza Euridice’ (what is life without Euridice) with great feeling.

The opera is not without its irony, for much of che faro and the final happy ending Orfeo addressed not his wife but his guitar.

This was a memorable production.

• Performance of Orfeo ed Euridice will be held at Buxton Opera House on Wednesday July 16, Saturday July 19, Tuesday July 22 and Friday July 25 at 7.15pm. For tickets, visit www.buxtonfestival.co.uk.