Ancient Greek mythoology
Other operas from ancient Greek mythology:
Other operas based on the Greek myth of Orpheus.
L'Orfeo - Claudio Monteverdi
Information about the opera L'Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi, and the best recordings available on CD or DVD, or for download.
Monteverdi's first opera, based on the story of Orpheus and Euridice from Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Orpheus and Eurydice are celebrating their forthcoming wedding, accompanied by nymphs and shepherds. Later, a messenger brings the terrible news that Eurydice has been mortally bitten by a snake while picking flowers in the fields.
Orpheus is overcome with grief, but resolves to descend to Hades to bring Eurydice back. At the River Styx the boatman Charon does not let him cross. Orpheus sings to him until he falls into a deep sleep, and then takes the oars and crosses the river himself.
In Hades Proserpine begs her husband Pluto to allow Orpheus to return to earth with Eurydice. Pluto agrees on condition that he leads her out of the underworld without looking back. On their journey home all goes well until Orpheus hears a sound and, concerned that Eurydice is not behind him, turns around and she vanishes. Orpheus continues alone.
Orpheus is left in despair, but he is consoled by his father, Apollo, who takes him up into the heavens where he will finally see Eurydice again in the sun and the stars.
Recommended recordings on CD
Cavina/Guadagnini/Galli (Glossa GES920913)
A glorious performance, recorded at the San Carlo Church, Modena, Italy, in 2006. A clear first choice, packaged as a CD in a hardback book, but pricey.
Ensemble La Venexiana, conducted by Claudio Cavina, 2006.
Cast: Mirko Guadagnini (Orfeo), Emanuela Galli (Euridice).
Haïm/Bostridge/Ciofi (Virgin Veritas 545 642-2)
A fresh, Italianate alternative to the classic recordings.
European Voices, Le Concert d'Astrée, conducted by Emmanuelle Haïm.
Cast: Ian Bostridge (Orfeo), Patrizia Ciofi (Euridice), Natalie Dessay (La Musica), Alice Coote (Messenger).
Virgin Veritas 545 642-2
Gardiner/Robertson/Rolfe-Johnson (Archiv Produktion 419 250-2)
A solid cast and good recording.
His Majesties Sagbutts and Cornetts, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, 1985.
Cast: Nicholas Robertson (Orfeo), Anthony Rolfe-Johnson (Euridice), Julianne Baird (La Musica), Lynne Dawson (Messenger).
Archiv Produktion 419 250-2
Recommended recordings on DVD
Alessandrini/Nigl/Invernizzi (Opus Arte OA 1044 D)
A magical production, with sets and costumes inspired by a painting by Titian, and an excellent Orfeo.
Milan La Scala Orchestra, Concerto Italiano, conducted by Rinaldo Alessandrini.
Cast: Georg Nigl (Orfeo), Roberta Invernizzi (Euridice), Sara Mingardo (La Musica), Luigi De Donato (Messenger).
Opus Arte OA 1044 D
Christie/Henschel/Schiavo (Dynamic 33598)
Les Arts Florissants, conducted by William Christie, 2008.
Cast: Dietrich Henschel (Orfeo), Maria Grazia Schiavo (Euridice).
Stubbs/Ainsley/Lascarro (Opus Arte OA 0929 D)
Recorded live at Het Muziektheater Amsterdam in 1997.
Tragicomedia, Concerto Palatino, conducted by Stephen Stubbs, 1997.
Cast: John Mark Ainsley (Orfeo), Juanita Lascarro (Euridice), David Cordier (La Musica), Brigitte Balleys (Messenger).
Opus Arte OA 0929 D
Savall/Zanasi/Figueras (OA 0842 D)
A spectacular period performance in the Grand Theatre of Liceu, Barcelona, recorded in 2002.
La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Le Concert des Nations, conducted by Jordi Savall, 2002.
Cast: Furio Zanasi (Orfeo), Montserrat Figueras (Euridice), Sara Mingardo (La Musica), Gloria Banditelli (Messenger).
OA 0842 D