Concert versions of Claudio Monteverdi’s L’ORFEO, Vincenzo Bellini’s NORMA and Christoph Willibald Gluck’s ORFEO AND EURIDICE are being performed this summer at the Festival d’Aix.
This evening, as a parallel to Monteverdi’s last opera, L’incoronazione di Poppea, Leonardo García Alarcón and Cappella Mediterranea are performing a concert version of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo. Initially premiered on 24 February 1607 in Mantua, the work was the composer’s first opera and is often considered the first true opera in history. At Aix, in the title role, Valerio Contaldo will be taking on the composer’s supremely complex and virtuoso score, which culminates in a journey through the Underworld, where beauty vies with hardship.
Norma — a leading example of the bel canto genre, and one of the most perfect masterpieces ever created — is being performed for the first time at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence on Monday, 18 July. The opera, whose history has been graced by the figure of Maria Callas, was first premiered on 26 December 1831 for the season opening of the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. At the Festival d’Aix, Riccardo Minasi will be using his own scholarly edition to conduct the Resonanz Ensemble, known for their historically informed interpretations; Michael Spyres and Amina Edris will stand alongside Karine Deshayes, at the height of her art, as she simultaneously takes on the role for this first time and makes her debut at the Festival.
An essential theme at the very emergence of opera, the myth of Orpheus has also accompanied some of the greatest reforms of the genre. On Thursday, 21 July 2022, as a mirror image to Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, Raphaël Pichon and Ensemble Pygmalion will be presenting the other most famous iteration of the myth in opera: Gluck’s Orfeo and Euridice — the quintessence of the classical sublime — which extoled the ideal of simple yet touching beauty a century and a half after Monteverdi’s work. The version being performed at the Festival is essentially Berlioz’s 1859 adaptation, which he made for the great Pauline Viardot. Emily D’Angelo, a mezzo-soprano with majestic technique and a fiery character, will be taking on the role of Orphée for the first time as she also makes her debut at the Festival d’Aix; Sabine Devieilhe as the ardent Eurydice and Lea Desandre as the mischievous Amour will accompany her in her initiatory quest.
Elizabeth and Vincent Meyer support the cycle of concert version operas