<em>Orph&eacute;e</em>&nbsp;from American Baroque Opera Co.
Music and Opera reporting on is made possible by The University of North Texas College of Music.
Select the link below to discover more.

Review: Orphée | American Baroque Opera Co. | Sammons Center for the Arts

Hell of a Time

The American Baroque Opera Co. opened its season with Marc-Antoine Charpentier's rarely performed Orphée.

published Friday, November 22, 2019

Photo: Dickie Hill
Orphée from American Baroque Opera Co.

Dallas — Without the tragic denouement, the classic myth of Orpheus as told by Ovid makes for a perfectly rounded narrative. Baroque era composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s chamber opera La descente d’Orphée aux enfers (The Descent of Orpheus to the Underworld) sets the ancient tale in lush, enchanting music in the French Baroque style, characterized by opulent vocal lines and vibrant dance rhythms.

The American Baroque Opera Co. presented an inspired interpretation of Charpentier’s score, which they called simply Orphée, to open their 2019-2020 season, which they’ve titled “A Hero’s Journey.” Fitting, as the poem tells of newlyweds Orphée and Eurydice, whose wedding day ends in tragedy when Eurydice is bitten by a poisonous snake. Orphée journeys into the Underworld, armed with his lyre and charming song, and persuades Pluto to let him leave with his young wife. This is how Charpentier’s opera concludes, omitting Orphée’s breach of Pluto’s demands, which leads to Euridice being sent back to the Underworld.

In the title role of Orphée, Nicholas Garza’s lithe countertenor was expressive, sensitive, and tender. His navigation between the tenor and alto ranges was clean, producing a warmth that was endearing to the character.

In the supporting role of Daphne, soprano Leslie Hochman offered a welcome reading of the role and was a vocal standout in this cast. Her middle range was full and buoyant with a lilt that blended into a silvery high end that was dramatic and declarative.

Soprano Anna Fredericka Popova was effective in the double roles of Euridice and Persephone, Pluto’s wife. Baritone Brandon Gibson, also in a double role of Apollo, Orphée’s father, and Pluto, was at times heavy and a bit pitchy, but offered a useful balance in texture to the ensemble.

Stage director Rebecca Choate Beasley’s semi-staging was efficient in the space and marked with Baroque stylized poses and posturing. The narrative was augmented with beautiful choreography at the opera’s open and close by Avant Chamber Ballet’s Katie Cooper. Dancers Juliann McAloon as Euridice and Tom Attard-Manché as Orphée were beautifully fluid and interpretive in movement and expression.

Most notably, the orchestra provided a thoughtful read of the score on period instruments. Without a conductor — but led primarily by ABOC artistic director Eric Smith on viola da gamba — the ensemble was bright and limber with a practiced understanding of phrasing. From their position upstage behind the singers, Smith and his ensemble demonstrated a marked knowledge over the genre with special care over the sumptuous textures and lavishly French ornamentations.

It was a perfectly pleasant presentation of Charpentier’s rarely performed work. Presented to a full audience, though, Kurth Hall at the Sammons Center for the Arts proved too small of a venue. Seating was quite crowded. Thanks For Reading

View the Article Slideshow
Click or Swipe to close
Hell of a Time
The American Baroque Opera Co. opened its season with Marc-Antoine Charpentier's rarely performed Orphée.
by Richard Oliver

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :