Touring – reviewed at the Grand Theatre, Leeds
Guest reviewer: Sal E Marino
A highly-dramatic and first-class performance of Opera North’s Orfeo Ed Euridice was extremely well received with rapturous applause at the exquisite Grand Theatre, Leeds. This must be one of (if not the most) tragic love stories ever imagined; beautiful and disturbing.
Heart-broken, grieving widower Orfeo, pleads with the Gods to allow him to go on a mission through the underworld of Hades to find and be reunited with his beloved Euridice. However, there’s a vital clause: he must not look back or communicate with her, or he’ll lose her forever.
Gluck composed some of his most spectacular arias for the fateful couple, including Orfeo’s heart-rendering cry for his lost wife ‘Che farò senza Euridice’ and Opera North’s brilliant principal guest conductor, Antony Hermus, along with Polly Leech (Orfeo – Alice Coote will be performing as Orfeo for the remainder of the Leeds tour), does it more than justice. Indeed, this is true of each and every score of the whole opera.
Leech’s voice is deeply penetrating with a chilling sadness that she keeps going throughout. The inner turmoil she creates with her mezzo-soprano voice touches the soul and absorbs it. In contrast, the strong profound sound of Amore, like her character, is supple and brings some humour and seduction into the drama.
Fflur Wyn, as Euridice, evokes and projects a pure innocence in her voice and character portrayal. One really feels her despair and anguish during the duet-argument played out with Orfeo and this was the highlight for me personally, as it obviously was for the rest of audience given the enthusiastic acclaim it received.
The principals set the stage ablaze with their outstanding vocals and this is also true of the chorus, who through simple yet very powerful movements and sharp-honed, albeit soft when required voices, make this opera a most intriguing dark adventure. Filled to the brim with passion, Opera North’s Orfeo ed Euridice is emotional, captivating and like every good opera should be – hauntingly beautiful.
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