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A Neo-classical Orfeo

Opéra de Lausanne
02/28/1999 -  and March 2, 4, 5, 7.1999
Claudio Monteverdi: L'Orfeo
Laura Polverelli (La Musica/Prosperina), Gilles Ragon (Orfeo), Gyslaine Waelchli (Euridice), Alain Bertschy (Pastore I/Spirito I), Russell Smythe (Pastore II/Appolo/Spirito II), Pascal Bertin (Pastore III), Brigitte Fournier (Speranza/Ninfa), Monica Bacelli (La Messaggiera), Antonio Abete (Caronte/Plutone)
Ensemble 415, Ensemble La Fenice, Choir of the Lausanne Opera, Véronique Carrot (conductor)
Giorgio Marini (director)

Friday night's l'Orfeo was delightful, just for a little change. We got a tenor Orfeo instead of a bass, for Roberto Scaltriti got ill. But Gilles Ragon saved the day. A grate baroque singer, who sung with Christie, Minkowski and Herreweghe.

It is not surprising if this theatre performs baroque art so often, since its Parisian general director, Dominique Meyer, is in love with the music of this period. As he is leaving Lausanne at the end of this season, it is a good farewell present to offer the first Opera of the History of Music to the Lausannois’; created at the Palace of the Gonzaga's in Mantua in 1607. Dominique Meyer will be taking over the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris and promises to bring some rarely played baroque operas in his luggage.

The neo-classical scenery looks like if it was located somewhere in Tuscany. A group of Années Folles ladies and gentlemen gaze at the events from aside and from a balcony. They have nothing to do there, or is it a way to link us, the public, to the times of Virgilius? At least Giorgio Marini seams to like Egyptian art, since his characters show often their profiles to the public. He is inspired, maybe, by "Trooping the Colours" when the mythological figures do the Slow March here and forth, like the Household Guards of Her Majesty. Above them the lovely Wegewood like relief brings us closer to the "why" of this profile marching. An other interesting aspect, it is through a flaming chimney that Orfeo leaves hell. A good idea for Don Giovanni when he falls into hell; I would use it, but less ideal in the realm of Pluto that is frozen. Anyhow baroque has to be spectacular.

In this Opera the recitativo is as important as the music. It is through the recitativo that Monteverdi and Striggio presents us the characters. These are set between music, choirs and songs. The grate baroque ensembles assembled in Lausanne, made us feel this, and the singers communicated it orally. Véronique Carrot, the usual choir director, managed her second try at conducting with success, knowing how difficult it is for a woman govern in such masculine fields.

Zoltan Bécsi



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