Author Topic: Monteverdi's L'Orfeo - suggestions please  (Read 2796 times)

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Offline Novi

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Monteverdi's L'Orfeo - suggestions please
« on: May 29, 2007, 03:48:00 AM »
I'm going to see this opera later this year, and slow learner that I am, I prefer to familiarise myself with the music before hand. I find I get a lot more enjoyment out of performances this way (usually) :).

What are your favourite recordings?

Haim? Gardiner? Harnoncourt? Jacobs? or indeed, anyone else?

Or perhaps DVD performances?

Thanks.
Durch alle Töne tönet
Im bunten Erdentraum
Ein leiser Ton gezogen
Für den der heimlich lauschet.

Offline Mystery

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Re: Monteverdi's L'Orfeo - suggestions please
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2007, 05:51:40 AM »
This is good if you are a slow learner because of all the repetition, particularly in the first act  :D I have the BBC Opus Arte version in my possession though haven't got round to watching it yet. Have seen the first few mins and it looks very 'authentic' with old instruments etc. And as for music...I just listen on naxosmusiclibrary.com so Naxos I guess!

Offline Novi

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Re: Monteverdi's L'Orfeo - suggestions please
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2007, 12:44:22 AM »
This is good if you are a slow learner because of all the repetition, particularly in the first act  :D I have the BBC Opus Arte version in my possession though haven't got round to watching it yet. Have seen the first few mins and it looks very 'authentic' with old instruments etc. And as for music...I just listen on naxosmusiclibrary.com so Naxos I guess!

Thanks Mystery. Apparently I have access to naxos online through my university, but I need to be on campus though. I'll have a listen next time I'm in.
Durch alle Töne tönet
Im bunten Erdentraum
Ein leiser Ton gezogen
Für den der heimlich lauschet.

Offline Mystery

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Re: Monteverdi's L'Orfeo - suggestions please
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2007, 12:58:27 AM »
Yes, so do I - very, very handy!

karlhenning

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Re: Monteverdi's L'Orfeo - suggestions please
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2007, 05:06:03 AM »
. . . I have the BBC Opus Arte version in my possession though haven't got round to watching it yet.

Get on it! It's good!

PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Monteverdi's L'Orfeo - suggestions please
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2007, 07:13:19 AM »
My suggestion: pack a lunch (or dinner) or anything with a high sugar content. Though not even two hours long it seems to be the longest opera I have ever seen or heard. There is about 1 tune in the entire opera as 99.99% of it is recitative with this constand bass drone in the background which makes you want to get up and yell: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH !
« Last Edit: August 09, 2007, 10:33:42 AM by PerfectWagnerite »

Tancata

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Re: Monteverdi's L'Orfeo - suggestions please
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2007, 07:25:06 AM »
My suggestion: pack a lunch (or dinner) or anything with a high sugar content. Though not even two hours long it seems to be the longest opera I have ever seen or heard. Their is about 1 tune in the entire opera as 99.99% of it is recitative with this constand bass drone in the background which makes you want to get up and yell: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH !

Lol!  :o

It may be recitative, but it is recitative which flirts delightfully with the most delicious melodies. The most important thing, IMO, is to have the libretto to hand (if it's a CD performance) or the subtitles on if watching on DVD. If you approach it via the words, something will click and the music will be anything but monotonous. It is a sung play, not a piece of music with some lyrics...

There are also threads on this from the old board, e.g.

http://www.good-music-guide.com/forum/index.php/topic,10053.0.html (General Monteverdi stuff)

and

http://www.good-music-guide.com/forum/index.php/topic,12561.0.html (Pierre Audi's DVDs)

I have exchanged some PMs with Novitiate on this subject...if anyone is interested, here is some stuff I said about the various CD and DVD recordings of L'Orfeo around at the moment. Short version - my favourites are Haim on CD and Jacobs on DVD  8).

Quote
I have several recordings of L'Orfeo on CD and DVD. On DVD, there is a performance by Rene Jacobs with the Trisha Brown Dance Company on Harmonia Mundi that is extremely good. Recorded live in 1998 with Simon Keenleyside as Orfeo. The rest of the cast are (AFAIK) rather low-profile singers. I think perhaps some of Jacobs' students. Still, all sing very well. In particular, Jacobs managed to find a bass who can hit the low notes of Caronte, which from my experience seems very rare on CD or on DVD  Grin. Orfeo is a hard part to sing, it's basically a tenor role but there are many excursions into the baritone range. Keenleyside is very good - basically a baritone, but he extends up without it feeling painful. He holds the power of his voice almost to the top, and has a pleasant enough head voice for tackling the highest peaks. Silvia is also great - a piercing mezzo and a convincing actress.

The production on the Jacobs DVD is really great and (IMO) puts in clearly ahead of, say, Jordi Savall's DVD (which is very close musically to Jacobs). It's not a traditional production. There's no scenery except for a circle on the back wall which acts variously as the sun, the throne of Pluto and Proserpina in the Inferno, and an abstract space for mid-air acrobatics. The ritornellos and sinfonias are danced - the pastoral ones in a fairly straightfoward "hey-nonny-nonny" sort of way, but the Infernal ones really inventively, with writhing shapes suggesting the Damned being ripped limb from limb. There's also a single dancer who is suspended from an off-stage joystick-operated crane and can glide around above the stage. Her harness is flexible, so she can pull off all sorts of dance moves as she flies through the air. She dances perfectly to La Musica's prologue. Finally, the characters perform strange hand and body movements as they declaim their recitative related to the emotions they are expressing. This is a pretty risky thing to try but it works...mostly. There are a few moments of "Walk like an Egyptian" or "I'm a little teapot..."

Anyway, I'd thoroughly recommend that. Jordi Savall would be another DVD contender, but you're going to see the same production anyway. The performance is very good - it's Jordi Savall after all. The production I didn't find as exciting. It's traditional almost to the point of parody. I think it may be trying to recreate the first ever production or something - cardboard trees  and cardboard temple signify the Arcadian scenes, Caronte actually has a boat, and the Inferno is full of dry ice. The characters "stand and deliver" their recitative while the others sort of gaze awkwardly at them, waiting their turn. But Silvia is good - making her entrance from the audience, walking up onto the stage!

Jordi Savall is also dressed like Monteverdi, which is kind of funny if you think about it.

On CD, Emmanuelle Haim's 2004 recording is rather good. It's very dramatic and eschews some of the early baroque singing conventions in favour of a more fiery, vibrato-laden style (e.g. Nathalie Dessay sings La Musica!). As ever with Haim, there's a rich and lively continuo which is guaranteed to hold you attention through the long stretches of recitative. Some people find L'Orfeo hard to get into because of all the recitative...Haim has the most accessible recording (that I've heard). However, Ian Bostridge sings Orfeo and his slimy voice, thin towards the top may not be the ideal instrument  Cool. He's certainly committed to the role, though, and gets full marks for drama.

Offline FideLeo

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Re: Monteverdi's L'Orfeo - suggestions please
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2007, 08:39:52 AM »
Garrido on K617 (CD).
HIP for all and all for HIP! Harpsichord for Bach, fortepiano for Beethoven and pianoforte for Brahms!

Offline val

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Re: Monteverdi's L'Orfeo - suggestions please
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2007, 11:41:07 PM »
To me, the best is Harnoncourt, with the Concentus Musicus and the tenor Lajos Kozma. Harnoncourt is deeply inspired and has a lot of great singers (Berberian, Hansmann, van Egmond). Kozma is good, but my favorite interpreter of Orfeo is Nigel Rogers.

Offline Mystery

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Re: Monteverdi's L'Orfeo - suggestions please
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2007, 10:31:17 AM »
I feel I have to defend Monteverdi here! To be fair, there wasn't the distinction between 'recitative' and 'aria' then, as it wasn't thought of as an opera. It is true there is a lot of 'declamation' but it is all very enjoyable!

 

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