Monteverdi's tomb in the Frari, Venice, photo by Michael Lodico
What is immediately striking about Roland Aeschlimann’s scenography, costumes, and lighting is its simplicity of color. For example, Orpheus was dressed in gold and his father Apollo in darker gold; Eurydice is in violet and her Messenger in lighter violet; and the chorus and dancers are all in white. The clean set and costumes went well with the transparent music of Monteverdi, a composer considered to be a bridge between the Renaissance and Baroque.
Orpheus looking up to Apollo in heaven, Festival d'Aix-en-Provence
Overall, the melismatic and ornamented passages of tenor Ed Lyon’s performance of “Possente spirto,” Orpheus’s plea to Charon, sounded more technical than lyrical, which made one miss a generous amount of resonance and bloom (Stéphane Degout portrays Orpheus in three of the six performances). Nevetheless, Charon was indeed put to sleep by Orpheus’s singing: thus Orpheus was able to sneak into the Underworld, where there was a chorus of spirits dressed in black rummaging around on the ground, reminiscent of a Renaissance depiction of the Damned.
Marie-Aude Roux, L'"Orfeo" de Monteverdi enchante Aix de sa fable (Le Monde, July 8)
Mezzo-soprano Mary-Claude Chappuis as Music, Messenger, and Hope sang with the most conviction, while bass Konstantin Wolff, as Charon, had the most presence in the open-air Théâtre de l’Archevêché. Trisha Brown’s stage direction and choreography were always sensible and strongly helped the opera to reach its potential. Also enjoyable was the large continuo section of two harpsichords, low strings, positiv organ, theorbo, archlute, and a nicely played Baroque harp, of which a variety of combinations were used. All singers except Lyon and Chappuis were participants in l’Académie européene de musique in Aix.
More reviews from the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence will follow.