, November 2011
There is a conscious striving for surrealism here, especially in the opening scene, with its anthropomorphic, human-sized bird that functions as solo dancer during the pastoral choruses. I enjoy this, but find the gradual, subtle accumulation of sets, inventive lighting—when Orfeo breaks the commandment of the gods and looks back at Eurydice, her figure on the stage turns from solid into silhouette—evocative costumes—faint blue-gray-green for the pastoral chorus; black for Proserpina and Plutone—and the cast’s slow, dreamlike movements and gestures a better entry point to Wilson’s vision. It is built in detail, unified in thought, and convincing.
It’s worth noting, too, that Wilson isn’t as dogmatic regarding facial expressions as in some of his other efforts. La Musica stares off into the distance, but with an expression of distinct pleasure as though contemplating her glory, while Orfeo and Eurydice turn slowly to look at one another with a confiding, loving glance in the first act. This last, simple moment in particular has an unexpected emotional charge in a production where characters sing to but almost never look at one another, as no doubt Wilson expected.
The musical side of matters is in excellent hands. Roberta Invernizzi…is among the most impressive sopranos we have today, both for sound and interpretative gifts. Her voice is rich in quality, varied in color, capable of sustaining a vigorous, lengthy phrase with a seemingly endless fund of breath, or launching coloratura thunderbolts. Georg Nigl’s lyrical baritone is her match, than which I know no better compliment, and he is among the finest Orfeos I’ve heard. Rinaldo Alessandrini follows his singers with great sensitivity, while shaping the score for musical effectiveness. His Concerto Italiano has no problems with any of it.
The camerawork is another joy… Slow and fast zooms, shots from below and above, and cutaways maintain a variety of visual punctuation, without losing any focus on the center of dramatic activity.
… I’m very impressed by this L’Orfeo. From nearly every perspective it demonstrates an original but imaginative realization of the opera, and one that never loses touch with the score and the words.