Magazine article Musical Opinion

Orpheus Returns to ENO

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Orpheus Returns to ENO

Article excerpt

Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice is a masterpiece regardless of the version used. There is therefore no problem with English National Opera's decision to opt for the shorter original score of 1762, which was revived on 24 February. If anything the work can gain in intensity and passion from being staged without an interval. In the event virtually everything seemed to be against the success of this revival.

Both of the principal singers went down ill shortly before the opening, which meant that Andrew Watts and Julie Unwin stepped into the breach at short notice. Andrew Watts as Orfeo proved to be a real asset, his assured counter-tenor finding the lyric intensity for the part and having the power to cut through the spaces of the Coliseum. His acting was accomplished and I would be happy to see him again in any of Handel's major roles.

Julie Unwin's voice seemed rather lightweight for Euridice but was pleasant and musical. However, she was able to do little more than walk to the right places on stage, which tended to undercut the intensity of Andrew Watts' Orfeo.

Mary Nelson had a much larger voice as Amor than either of the other two principals and had obviously been picked with the original cast in mind. She was consistently positive and alive, adding greatly to the impact of the final scene.

If the on-stage singing was respectable the off-stage proved problematic. As the bulk of the action is danced rather than acted, the Chorus are placed in the stage boxes. The effect is simply overwhelmingly loud and quite out of keeping with the stage voices. …

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