Tuesday, November 22, 2022
HomeOperaConductor Stephen Stubbs Discusses Gluck And Orpheus

Conductor Stephen Stubbs Discusses Gluck And Orpheus


Orpheus and Eurydice conductor Stephen Stubbs sat down with Seattle Opera to debate the longevity of the Orpheus fable, the storys malleable ending, and what units Christoph Willibald Gluck’s model aside.

Why had been the Renaissance inventors of opera so obsessed
with the parable of Orpheus?

Two causes: first, when opera was new—and even at present—an
apparent query is, ‘Why are these folks singing at one another as a substitute of
talking?’ But when your protagonist is the semi-god of music, and he’s
surrounded by all these nymphs and shepherds from the pastoral world, you’ve created
a actuality the place it is sensible that everyone would sing on a regular basis. Additionally,
these Renaissance artists appreciated what the story says in regards to the energy of music. Orpheus
can tame wild beasts via music, and even has the ability to go to hell and
carry Eurydice again.

You’ve labored on a lot of Orpheus operas. Do you
have a favourite?

Sure, for the primary 2 hundred years of opera, they had been consistently
writing operas about Orpheus. Claudio Monteverdi and Christoph Willibald Gluck
get carried out quite a bit. The Orfeo of Luigi Rossi (1647) is a incredible
piece, nicely worthy of revival. They only gave it at Juilliard. And Marc-Antoine
Charpentier’s incomplete Descente d’Orphée aux enfers (1686) has
a number of the most elegant music I do know. Antonio Sartorio’s (1672) is one other
favourite. Close to and pricey to my coronary heart is La morte d’Orfeo of 1619 by
Stefano Landi. We gave that one final yr with the Younger Artists of L.A. Opera at
a flamenco bar in Silverlake. It’s a sequel to Monteverdi’s Orfeo of
1607; it reveals Orpheus being torn limb from limb by the wild Bacchantes. And
now that he’s really useless, he goes to search out Eurydice within the underworld, however
she doesn’t acknowledge him anymore

La morte d’Orfeo at El Cid in Silverlake in 2020. Credit score: Craig T. Matthew / LA Opera

That’s not how Monteverdi ended his opera!
Truly, the ending of Monteverdi’s
Orfeo is
debated. The libretto and rating don’t agree. Within the libretto, the wild girls tear
Orpheus limb from limb, and his head goes floating down the river (as occurs
in Ovid’s
Metamorphoses). However that opera was written for a marriage, and apparently
any individual stated, “That ending simply isn’t acceptable,” in order that they wrote the ending
the place Orpheus joins his father Apollo in heaven. I simply wrote new music for the
first ending, the one from the printed libretto, doing my finest to make use of
Monteverdi’s musical language. We’ll carry out my new ending at a live performance in
Seattle subsequent Could.

You and your colleagues have eradicated the deus ex machina glad
ending that concludes Gluck’s opera.

Inform us about how this Orpheus will finish.

Sure, I’ve all the time felt the glad ending of the 1762 Vienna
model feels a bit tacked-on, like an appendage. [Stage Director]
Chía Patiño
steered altering the ending and utilizing the plaintive flute solo, which Gluck added
(for his 1774 French model) to the Elysian Fields scene. We’ll conclude with
simply harp, as Orpheus, and flute, because the soul of Eurydice. I’m enthusiastic about
this new, extra melancholy ending.

Have you ever labored on Gluck’s opera earlier than?
Many occasions, however solely as soon as earlier than with a countertenor. Early music
works finest if you carry out it within the register for which it was written. And
countertenors have come a good distance from the hooty, pure, choir-boy sound they
used to make sixty, seventy years in the past…we now have wonderful virtuosos, with
potent voices for opera.

How was Gluck’s Orfeo
totally different from the everyday 1760s opera?

He places the story-telling energy of music heart stage, and simply
goes straight for the jugular. Consider his “Hell” music. It’s so imposing!
With out refinement, with out curlicues. No composer earlier than him would have finished
one thing that bald. To me, that’s its nice power. At the moment, Italian
opera was largely simply virtuoso solos. Gluck infuses it with virtues from the
French
tragédie lyrique: a lot of dance, spectacle, and instrumental music. And
complicated prolonged recitatives, just like the lengthy dialogue between Orpheus and
Eurydice after they’re en route again to earth from hell. There, Gluck units his
performers a very troublesome activity: the orchestra should ebb and movement with the ever-changing
feelings of the singers. The gamers should perceive the scene deeply, in a means
that challenges business follow (then as now!).

When Orpheus grieves his misplaced love (in his closing aria, “Che
farò senza Euridice”), why is it in a serious key?

At this time we are likely to suppose Main = Pleased and Minor = Unhappy. That
wasn’t what they thought within the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Suppose
in regards to the German phrases,
Dur and
Moll. In that mind-set, Main = Arduous, Minor = Gentle.
Main keys had been used for something harsh or heroic, minor keys for tenderness.
However this aria continues to be uncommon: I believe it’s about submission to destiny. And
Gluck wished to offer Orpheus one thing heart-rendingly stunning to sing.



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