History’s First Opera Masterpiece Comes to Vancouver’s Chan Centre

Sourced from The Chan Centre website

The grey skies and rain of this season make for the perfect atmospheric weather for a night of dramatically moving and passionate opera in one of Vancouver’s loveliest performing venues.

Early Music Vancouver (EMV) presents Monteverdi’s timeless Orfeo at the end of this month in a production that brings together an impressive roster of local and international talent.

On October 29, 2017 (3pm) at The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts (6265 Crescent Road), EMV is excited to mount Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo, a seminal work in the operatic canon. First performed in the early seventeenth century, marking the shift from the Renaissance to the Baroque period, the opera is claimed by music critics to be the first masterpiece in Western operatic history. Matthew White, executive and artistic directory of EMV, says that Orfeo is his favourite opera, partly due to its continued relevance and resonance over four centuries after its initial production.

The story is full of the romance, woe, and tragedy that audiences would expect from such a masterpiece. Based on the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus (Orpheo in the opera), the opera follows the narrative of the musician and demi-god as he attempts to bring his love Euridice back from the underworld after she is bitten by a viper while trying to escape a satyr. The god of the underworld, Plutone, gives Orpheo what he desperately desires, provided he does not look back at her as he leads her back into the light.

Of course, Orfeo cannot resist a backward glance, thereby separating his love and him for eternity as he must leave the underworld without her due to his violation of the contract. He is thrown into deepest despair, only to be pitied and saved by Apollo who allows the two lovers to transcend their separation. Ultimately, the opera is about mortality and death, as well as the redemptive and the restorative aspects of music.

Image of Stephen Stubbs by Miranda Loud, Orpheus Photography

The production is directed by Stephen Stubbs, a Grammy award winner, conductor, lutenist, and Baroque opera specialist. He also established Seattle’s Pacific MusicWorks (PMW), whose singers and musicians are also taking part in this mounting of Orfeo.

Image of Pacific MusicWorks by Bill Mohn

The title role is played by Vancouver’s own Colin Balzer, a highly internationally acclaimed tenor who recently performed with the Rotterdam Philharmonic under Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Image of Colin Balzer by Catherina Hess

San Francisco’s Dark Horse Consort, a seventeenth-century wind ensemble, rounds out the phenomenal talent.

Image of Dark Horse Consort by Tatiana Daubek

Further info and tickets are available on-line.

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