Composers: Gluck
Compositions: Orphée et Euridice
Performers: Juan Diego Flórez t, Christiane Karg s, Teatro alla Scala/Mariotti
Catalogue Number: Belvedere BVE08053 (DVD)

Orphée et Euridice is the sole example of Christoph Willibald Gluck’s “reform” operas to have consistently held the stage since its Viennese premiere in 1762. Abounding with the “noble simplicity” with which its composer aimed to replace the glittering encrustations of baroque opera seria, to do it justice, a director needs to understand Gluck’s objectives. In this Royal Opera House/La Scala co-production, it is clear that John Fulljames and Hofesh Shechter have done just that.

Orpheé is reimagined as a kind of internalised seven stages of grief. Strong on ritual and movement, each element is carefully tailored to the varied abilities of soloists, chorus and the highly skilled dancers of Shechter’s own company. The modernist infernal dances are bold and magical.

Juan Diego Flórez makes an intensely focussed, powerful Orphée, delivering a superbly determined L’espoir renaît dans mon âme and a tender, impassioned J’ai perdu mon Eurydice. He’s impressively profound in his grief. Christiane Karg makes a pure and fragile Euridice with Fatma Said a perky, warm-toned Amor. The Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala under Michele Mariotti may lack the lightness of touch of the finest of period bands, but they make up for it with a heft suited to the seriousness of the dramatic situation. Illuminating camera work reveals an extra dimension and the sound is excellent. Highly recommended.