Saturday, May 5, 2007

Orfeo ed Euridice

Everything about Mark Morris' production of Orfeo ed Euridice for the Met reeks of high concept: An onstage chorus dressed as deceased celebrities (I noticed Abe Lincoln, Gandhi and Marie Antoinette, just to name a few), stylized costumes by none other than Isaac Mizrahi and lots of modern dance. All of these elements eclipse the simple and fantastic love story at the center of Gluck's masterpiece. Morris has fallen into the trap that most dancers face when directing in another medium, and the production suffers because of it. With the focus squarely on the movement aspects, the heart of the piece is replaced by hurlyburly. Frankly, I'm surprised that he didn't just stick the singers in the pit, as George Balanchine did with his 1935 production of this opera. The production is notable for the fine performances of its soloists--Maija Kovalevska's Euridice is especially radiant--and the glorious orchestra under James Levine's baton. However, I left feeling that Morris had mistakenly arrived early for the ABT season.

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