Music and Dance Organizations Collaborate On Production of Opera Masterpiece

December 28, 2010

More Information:
For Media Only: Helene Snihur (585-274-1057, hsnihur@esm.rochester.edu)
For The Public: 585-274-1110

The Eastman School of Music’s Eastman Opera Theatre, Madrigalia, and Geomantics Dance Theater are collaborating to offer local audiences an exciting production of an 18th-century opera based on the Greek legend of Orpheus.

From January 27 to 30, the three arts organizations will present Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice (Orpheus and Eurydice), a work noteworthy as the first of the composer’s operas replacing the musical and narrative excesses of  the Baroque era with a “noble simplicity” in music and drama, bridging the move to the Classical style.

Orfeo ed Euridice follows Orpheus’s unsuccessful attempt to bring his dead wife Eurydice back from Hades. Unlike the myth, however, Gluck’s opera has a happy ending, with the god of love Amore taking pity on the lovers and reviving Eurydice so she can rejoin her husband on earth. The three-act, two-hour work offers gorgeous yet accessible music and a compelling story about loss, facing fears, and the triumph of love over death. Orfeo ed Euridice will be sung in Italian with English supertitles.

The roles of Orpheus, Eurydice, and Amore will be sung by Eastman School students. Members of Madrigalia will perform the choruses. Geomantics Dance Theater will perform the Dance of the Furies and the Dance of the Blessed Spirits as Orpheus travels through Hades and the heavenly Elysian Fields.

“Collaboration is the very soul of opera production, as artists of all kinds come together with their individual talents and skills to create something that truly is greater than the sum of its parts. Collaborating with other artists is always a pleasure and a deeply satisfying experience,” said Johnathon Pape, associate director of Eastman Opera Theatre and stage director for Orfeo ed Euridice. “As each new piece is added to the process, the collaborators inspire each other to their best work and a final product that is exponentially richer for the audience. This has certainly been my experience with Orfeo ed Euridice. Working with Madrigalia and Geomantics Dance Theater has been a real pleasure. Rochester has so many wonderful arts organizations, and to collaborate on a project like Orfeo helps us all expand our audiences and give the community a truly unique experience.”

The production is being presented in the Harro East Ballroom, where a “thrust” configuration of the stage will bring the music and the dancing into the audience. The intimacy and proximity to the stage will heighten the audience’s emotional involvement in the action and allow them to see close-up the rich imagery of the dance choreography.

“As Montaigne said, ‘The thing of it is, we must live with the living.’What would a ‘Dance of the Furies’ really look like in this century, that is, what is hell now?  And, then, how to avoid the treacle and triteness of a Hallmark Card as we make a ‘Dance of the Blessed Spirits,’ that is, what could heaven really be for us now?” observed Richard Haisma, artistic director of Geomantics Dance Theater. “In both instances a style derived from the history of modern dance would be neither sufficiently psychological nor refreshingly kinetic as to induce in audience members a sense of their own liveliness in daily life, and it is the latter that is the true purpose of art. To that end the content and style of these dances seemed only derivable from the psyches and bodies of our young dancers themselves, whom I salute for their complexity, depth and humanity.”

“A project like Orfeo challenges the singers to play a different and more dramatic role than they would usually assume for a choral concert,” said Dan McInerney, Madrigalia Administrator and tenor. “This unique collaboration with Geomantics and Eastman Opera Theatre raises the level of this performance to a higher plane. I think audiences will be completely taken with the fresh and energetic approach to an 18th-century opera and a millennia-old tale.”

Orfeo ed Euridice is being presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 27, Friday, Jan. 28, and Saturday, Jan. 29; and at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 30. Tickets are $20 (discounts with University of Rochester and student ID) and are available in advance at the Eastman Theatre Box Office in the new Eastman East Wing. Lectures will be offered one hour before each performance.

About Eastman Opera Theatre
The Eastman School of Music’s Eastman Opera Theatre presents three productions a year. Eastman Opera Theatre offers a comprehensive program of training and performance opportunities for young singers at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels. Many Eastman graduates enter the operatic profession as a natural extension of their experience in school, including such distinguished alumni as Anthony Dean Griffey and Nicole Cabell. (www.esm.rochester.edu/ensembles/opera.php)

About Geomantics
Geomantics Dance Theater (www.geomanticsdancetheater.org/GEOMANTICS DANCE THEATER.html) is a contemporary dance company based in Rochester, N.Y. The company is distinguished in its edgy and entertaining choreography as well as the depth of the dancing. Geomantics has appeared in New York City and throughout the western New York area, and has been invited to perform at such wide-ranging events as World Poetry Day festivities, RO(chester TO(ronto) Performance Series, Art for All Festival, International Laban Conference, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), and others.

About Madrigalia
Founded in 1975, Madrigalia (www.madrigalia.org) is an acclaimed vocal chamber ensemble with an extensive repertoire encompassing traditional and contemporary styles of secular and sacred choral literature from the Renaissance through the 21st century. The ensemble has performed throughout western New York and has been featured on Rochester public radio station WXXI FM. Madrigalia has released four recordings and was awarded the 2007 Chorus America/ASCAP Alice Parker Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music.

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Calendar Listings:

Thursday, January 27
Eastman Opera Theatre: Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice. A collaboration with Madrigalia chamber ensemble and Geomantics Dance Theater.
7:30 p.m.
Harro East Theatre and Ballroom, 155 North Chestnut St.
Tickets: $20; discounts with UR or student ID. Available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, Eastman East Wing, 433 East Main St.; by phone, 585-454-2100; by fax 585-454-7885; or online at www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts/tickets.php .
Pre-performance lectures start one hour before show times

Friday, January 28
Eastman Opera Theatre: Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice. A collaboration with Madrigalia chamber ensemble and Geomantics Dance Theater.
7:30 p.m.
Harro East Theatre and Ballroom, 155 North Chestnut St.
Tickets: $20; discounts with UR or student ID. Available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, Eastman East Wing, 433 East Main St.; by phone, 585-454-2100; by fax 585-454-7885; or online at www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts/tickets.php .
Pre-performance lectures start one hour before show times

Saturday, January 29
Eastman Opera Theatre: Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice. A collaboration with Madrigalia chamber ensemble and Geomantics Dance Theater.
7:30 p.m.
Harro East Theatre and Ballroom, 155 North Chestnut St.
Tickets: $20; discounts with UR or student ID. Available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, Eastman East Wing, 433 East Main St.; by phone, 585-454-2100; by fax 585-454-7885; or online at www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts/tickets.php .
Pre-performance lectures start one hour before show times

Sunday, January 30
Eastman Opera Theatre: Gluck: Orfeo ed Euridice. A collaboration with Madrigalia chamber ensemble and Geomantics Dance Theater.
5:30 p.m.
Harro East Theatre and Ballroom, 155 North Chestnut St.
Tickets: $20; discounts with UR or student ID. Available at the Eastman Theatre Box Office, Eastman East Wing, 433 East Main St.; by phone, 585-454-2100; by fax 585-454-7885; or online at www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts/tickets.php .
Pre-performance lectures start one hour before show times