“Wonderfully vivacious and gripping… Sorrell and company delivered Monteverdi’s masterpiece with superb energy and clarity…. An exhilarating evening.”
–THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
PRE-CONCERT TALK by Professor Thomas Forrest Kelly of Harvard University, one hour before each performance.
AF ON TOUR!
Also catch this program in Ann Arbor, San Francisco (Berkeley), and Sonoma! see AF’s complete tour schedule…
Hear the Music
Karim Sulayman with Apollo’s Fire
(tracks from the forthcoming CD)
Toccata (opening procession)
Vi Ricorda bosch’ ombrosi (Wedding scene)
Rosa cel ciel (Wedding scene)
Qual honor (Orfeo leads Euridice out of Hades)
PROLOGUE. The personification of Music addresses the noble audience (i.e. the court of Mantua) and introduces the subject of Orfeo, the famous singer of antiquity.
ACT I. The fields of Thrace. Nymphs and shepherds are gathered to celebrate the wedding of Orfeo and Euridice. A shepherd invites the party to sing to Hymen, the goddess of marriage, for her blessings. Following a dance, a shepherd asks Orfeo to delight them with a song. Orfeo sings a hymn of thanks to his father Apollo and his image, the sun. He then expresses his love to Euridice, who had formerly scorned him. She sings of her own love for him, and the dance resumes. A shepherd calls them to give thanks at the temple, and the nymphs and shepherds present prayerful meditations on the transitory nature of sorrow and joy.
ACT II. A continuation of the previous scene. A shepherd invites Orfeo to rest under the trees, and they sing in praise of the stream, meadows, and the woods where Pan, the god of shepherds, wanders. The merry company is interrupted by the sudden arrival of the messenger Sylvia, who brings the devastating news that Euridice has died, having been bitten by a snake. Orfeo vows to descend into Hades and bring Euridice back to earth. With bitter lamentations, the nymphs and shepherds leave to pay their final homage to the dead Euridice.
ACT III. The banks of the River Styx, gateway to Hades. Orfeo has found his way guided by Hope (Speranza), but she must abandon him there. Orfeo cries out at her departure, and startles Caronte, the oarsman. He demands that Orfeo turn back. In a magical aria, Orfeo draws on all his musical powers in an attempt to win over Caronte, but to no avail. Finally, Orfeo’s music soothes Caronte to sleep. Orfeo steals the oarsman’s boat and crosses the river.
ACT IV. The court of Pluto in Hades. Proserpina, Pluto’s wife, has heard Orfeo’s song and is moved to plead with her husband on Orfeo’s behalf. Pluto cannot resist Proserpina, and orders that Orfeo may have Euridice back, provided he does not look back as she follows him out of Hades. Orfeo leads Euridice joyfully from Hades, in a fatal moment of doubt and fear, looks back at her. Euridice is taken back to the dead forever, and Orfeo is expelled from Hades.
ACT V. The fields of Thrace. Orfeo, on the edge of madness, wanders in hopeless despair, asking the mountains and valleys to weep with him. He hears his echo and begins to converse with it. In bitterness, he rejects all womankind, since none are as perfect as Euridice. [From this point on, Monteverdi’s music is lost but the original 1607 libretto continues as follows.] Orfeo is overheard by a band of wild Bacchant women, worshippers of Bacchus. He hides himself. The women, enraged by his rejection of all womankind, burst on stage in pursuit. While hunting Orfeo, they sing praises to Bacchus and celebrate his gift of wine. At the end of their song, Orfeo is discovered. A stylized battle dance ensues, in which Orfeo meets his demise at the women’s frenzied hands.
These concerts are generously sponsored by
And also made possible by major grants from