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John Terauds
Toronto Star, December 2010

TOP 5 OPERA DVDS OF 2010 – No. 5

Opéra de Lyon’s over-the-top 1997 production of Jacques Offenbach’s 1858 comic opera Orphée aux enfers stars a young Natalie Dessay.

John Terrauds
Toronto Star, February 2010

Ovid’s old tale of Orpheus and Eurydice has never had as crazy a ride as in this 1858 comic opera by Jacques Offenbach. Orpheus is a philandering music teacher. Wife Eurydice has something going on the side, too. When she is lured to hell by Pluto, Orpheus couldn’t be happier to be rid of his pesky mate. But Public Opinion demands he go and fetch her back.

The original Paris production was as over-the-top as the silly story itself. So, for this 1997 production for the Opéra de Lyon, director Laurent Pelly and the designers held nothing back in a gaudy, hilarious explosion of mirth and mayhem. Soprano Natalie Dessay and every other cast member are fabulous as they go about their merry ways, which include a mad can-can inserted into the score, as well as quotations from Gluck’s earlier, serious opera on the same theme. We even have cross-dressing ballet dancers to give the silliness extra kick. Mark Minkowsky directs the house orchestra and chorus with appropriate verve and humour.

Frank Behrens
ArtsATL, February 2010

The soloists would be hard to beat, and watching their expressions and body movements (but not Ramey’s hairdo) adds so much more to merely hearing the work on an audio recording. Muti has opted for the German-text version, which I believe is the correct choice. The running time is 120 minutes, the picture is in full-screen format, and the subtitles are in German, English and French.

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