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Salzburg dances to its death: Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice" with Cecilia Bartoli


Highlights: Christof Loy is working on Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice" at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival. Precision mechanic Loy was also responsible for the choreography of the Gluck Opera. Cecilia Bartoli's voice, which has matured, has enough substance for far-reaching flights of fancy. Mélissa Petit effortlessly stands up to the art of Bartoli with her rich rich rich voice. Gianuca Capuano, conductor of the Prince of Monaco, develops Les Bartoli.

As if he only gradually understands, Orfeo (Cecilia Bartoli, center) wanders through the action. Precision mechanic Christof Loy was also responsible for the choreography of the Gluck Opera. © Monika Rittershaus

Christof Loy is working on Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice" at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival and lets the piece ebb away in total nihilism. An intense performance, also thanks to the boss Cecilia Bartoli.

That's how beautifully they had imagined it. It is not only love that should triumph, as Christoph Willibald Gluck and his lyricist Ranieri de' Calzabigi dreamed in the final chorus, but the whole world. Incorrigible optimists and happy-ending fetishists, maybe that was possible in the 18th century. But here, and there the legendary singer can still put in so much effort, there is no resurrection. Euridice is dead, irrevocable, a second time. Resuscitation by music failed, while Orfeo slowly climbs the steps to a square wall recess. Probably there is nothing yawning behind it. Or worse.

No jubilation, then, but the choir repeats the opening number to weep for the beauty with "pianti, lamenti, sospiri", with tears, lamentations and sighs. This is contrary to the score, but the Salzburg Whitsun Festival has the best lawyer: happiness itself. He worked on "Orfeo ed Euridice" for various performance venues, converted, expanded and transposed the parts depending on the singer. At the Haus für Mozart, the singing artistic director prefers the Parma version. It is higher and looks great on Cecilia Bartoli. Her voice, which has matured, has enough substance for far-reaching flights of fancy. For dramatic outbursts in deeper regions, this aesthete now risks tones and declamation away from the beautiful song. A tragedian who is still in total control.

Her Orfeo seems to have been thrown into a drama that he doesn't really understand and through which he seems to be wandering with only gradually growing knowledge. Christof Loy, a precision mechanic in opera directing, has Orfeo meet a dance ensemble in Johannes Leiacker's panelled, unadorned uniform room. In an unusual dual role as choreographer and director, Loy projects and magnifies the drama of the title couple onto a collective. Commentary is that, illustration, continuation, in the spirit of the musical theatre hybrids that were common at the time. Sometimes this also brings unrest. But for the intimate moments of the non-stop 90-minute film, Loy gains a contrast medium, not least in the heated fury dance.

In terms of precision, no one can compete with Christof Loy

Others may gossip about Loy and his always similar, noble aesthetics, but hardly anyone can compete with him in terms of precision, subtlety. Every posture, every turn, every look is right. When who performs, where they stand and move, is developed with an eye for perfect stage balance and focus. The classicism of Gluck's music is reflected on stage. And even when the choir sits on steps in front of the orchestra pit most of the time, it seems as if each member is silently commenting on what is happening. An evening of extreme, all the more effective reduction. When a door slams shut, it's like an explosion: opera direction from the molecular kitchen.

Loy lets "Orfeo ed Euridice" turn into nihilism, and there's a reason for that. When everything is emptied, when the two meet in the "underworld", it becomes clear in meticulous character guidance how complicated this togetherness is. The fact that he doesn't look at her suddenly has to do with blindness to reality. What happened before Euridice's first death, we have only a vague idea. In any case, it was not a happy, unencumbered relationship.

You've never heard the hit of the piece like this before

In these minutes, Mélissa Petit effortlessly stands up to the art of Bartoli with rich, dark lyricism. And precisely because everything on stage is so evaporated, the music can literally flood the stage. Gianluca Capuano, court conductor of the Bartoli, develops with Les Musiciens du Prince – Monaco, a plethora of fine gradations from pale sound to tart, brittle mixtures to strong application of colour. The basic pulse is high, the tempo architecture and dramatic disposition are so coherent that no premiere guest dares to applaud in between. Madison Nonoa completes the top-class vocal trio with her (advanced) short appearance as Amore. The way the choir sings Il Canto di Orfeo, with such plasticity in the quiet and such textual awareness in the violent passages, there is indeed a fourth protagonist.

The culmination point is the hit of the piece: "Che farò senza Euridice" has never been heard like this before. Bartoli and Capuano start at a wild, rushed pace. Pure panic of death, which only calms down in the second repetition to the lament. As breathtaking as Bartoli creates, Orfeo's drama falls into four minutes. There is an ovation after the final note, even when the artistic director is crowned Kammersängerin on stage. As Austrian priorities turn out: Anna Netrebko has held the title since 2017.

Source: merkur

All life articles on 2023-05-28

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