13-24 January 2015
Michael Boyd directs a new production of Monteverdi’s masterpiece in a collaboration between The Royal Opera and the Roundhouse in Camden.
On her wedding day Euridice is bitten by a snake and dies. Her husband, the great musician Orfeo, pursues her spirit down into the underworld.
Orfeo’s exquisite music enchants Proserpina, the Queen of Hades, who pleads with her consort Pluto for clemency. Pluto allows Orfeo to lead Euridice into the land of the living, provided he doesn’t look back at his wife. Orfeo cannot resist, and loses her.
The history of great opera begins with the premiere of Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo on 24 February 1607 in the ducal palace in Mantua. It was Monteverdi’s first opera, produced as courtly entertainment for the carnival season. For this ‘favola in musica’ (story in music) he incorporated existing musical forms, such as madrigals and the newly developed recitative (singing with speech-like rhythms and minimal accompaniment). But the result was revolutionary, possessing a powerful emotional truth that had never been seen before in musical dramas. Orfeo is rightly acclaimed as the first operatic work of art.
A new collaboration between the Roundhouse and The Royal Opera, Orfeo follows on from L’Ormindo at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe, in spring 2014. Former artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company Michael Boyd directs in his operatic debut, with a production that features post-graduate students of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and participants of East London Dance.
Sung in English
Scottish conductor Christian Curnyn made his Royal Opera debut in 2009 conducting The Beggar’s Opera in the Linbury Studio Theatre. In 2014 he conducted The Royal Opera’s production of L’Ormindo at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe, which he returns to conduct in the 2014/15 Season.
Curnyn was born in Glasgow. He read music at York and studied harpsichord at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has gone on to become one of the leading baroque opera conductors working in the UK. He founded the Early Opera Company in 1994. The company’s notable performances since have included Agrippina (New York), Orlando (South Bank Early Music Festival), Partenope (Buxton and Aldeburgh festivals) and tours of Flavio and Susanna. Curnyn made his English National Opera debut in 2008 conducting Partenope and has since returned to conduct After Dido, Castor and Pollux, Julius Caesar and Medea. Opera engagements elsewhere have included Semele and Tamerlano for Scottish Opera, Saul for Opera North, Le nozze di Figaro and Eliogabalo for Grange Park Opera, Così fan tutte for New York City Opera, Tolomeo for Glimmerglass Opera, Platée for Stuttgart Opera and La Calisto and Gluck’s Ezio for Frankfurt Opera.
On the concert platform Curnyn has worked with orchestras including the Hallé, Ulster Orchestra, English Concert, Irish Baroque Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He has made award-winning recordings of Semele and Partenope for Chandos, for whom he has also recorded Eccles’s The Judgement of Paris and Handel’s Serse.
Hungarian-Romanian baritone Gyula Orendt made his Royal Opera debut in 2012 as Gamekeeper (Rusalka). He returns in the 2014/15 Season to sing the title role in Orfeo at the Roundhouse.
Orendt was born in Trannsylvania and studied at the Transylvania University of Brasov and the Franz Liszt Conservatory, Budapest. Early in his career he sang the title role in Handel’s Saul under Helmut Rilling, Colas (Bastien und Bastienne) in Györ and Schumann’s Liederkreis op.24 at the Bad Kissingen Festival. He started his career as a member of the Vienna Volksoper 2010–11 before becoming a member of the Opera Studio of Berlin State Opera 2011–13, singing such roles as Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Keeper of the Madhouse (The Rake’s Progress, directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski) and Fiorello (Il barbiere di Siviglia) under Daniel Barenboim. In 2013 he became a member of the Berlin State Opera, where his roles include Papageno, Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Tempo/Consiglio (Rappresentatione di anima et di corpo) under René Jacobs, the title role in Der Kaiser von Atlantis, Belcore (L’elisir d’amore) and Silvano (Un ballo in maschera). Engagements elsewhere include Roberto/Nardo (La finta giardiniera) for Glyndebourne Festival, also broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) and Orfeo for Opéra national de Lorraine, Nancy, and Guglielmo for Bavarian State Opera.
In concert Orendt has sung Ein deutsches Requiem with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra. His discography includes Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo under Jacobs for Harmonia Mundi. Orendt is a triple prizewinner of the Francisco Viñas Competition.
English soprano Susanna Hurrell made her Royal Opera debut in 2014, singing Music/Erisbe in The Royal Opera’s production of L’Ormindo at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe. In the 2014/15 Season she returns to sing Music/Erisbe and Euridice/Echo (Orfeo) for The Royal Opera at the Roundhouse.
Hurrell was born in London and trained at the Royal College of Music with Patricia Rozario and at the National Opera Studio with Jeffrey Talbot. For the London Handel Festival she has sung roles including Rodelinda, Rossane (Alessandro) and Amarilli (Il pastor fido). Other roles have included Rose Maurrant (Street Scene) with The Opera Group, Maid (The Crocodile) for Grimeborn Festival and Serpetta (La finta giardiniera) for Opera de Baugé.
Hurrell sings regularly in concert, her engagements including Messiah with the English Chamber Orchestra, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Haydn’s Nelson Mass with Oxford Philomusica and the world premiere of Oppenheimer’s Deborah with the Southbank Sinfonia.
British soprano Mary Bevan made her Royal Opera House debut singing Lila (The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, world premiere) in the Linbury Studio Theatre in 2013 with Mahogany Opera Group. She returned the following Season to sing Barbarina (Le nozze di Figaro) for The Royal Opera on the main stage.
Bevan studied Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Cambridge University and trained at the Royal Academy of Music. She sings regularly at English National Opera, where her roles have included Rebecca (Two Boys, world premiere), Yum-Yum (The Mikado), and Barbarina. Her other roles have included Galatea (Acis and Galatea) for Iford Arts, Pamina (The Magic Flute) at Garsington Opera and Kate (Yeomen of the Guard) at the BBC Proms. She regularly appears in concert, performances including the St Matthew Passion and Israel in Egypt with the Hanover Band, Les Illuminations with the English Chamber Orchestra and Rutter’s Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall.
Bevan is the sister of soprano Sophie Bevan and daughter of David Bevan, Director of Music at Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Chelsea.
Jette Parker Young Artist
Irish mezzo-soprano Rachel Kelly joined The Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artist Programme in the 2013/14 Season and has since sung Second Esquire (Parsifal), Mercédès (Carmen), Javotte (Manon) on the main stage, Cat (El gato con botas) in the Linbury Studio Theatre in Meet the Young Artists Week and Mirinda (L’Ormindo) with The Royal Opera at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare’s Globe. In the 2014/15 Season she sings Pisana (I due Foscari), Zaida (Il turco in Italia) and Flora Bervoix (La traviata) on the main stage, Proserpina (Orfeo) at the Roundhouse and Mirinda at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
Kelly was born in Ireland and studied at the Royal Academy of Music and the National Opera Studio. She continues to study with Janice Chapman. She is a Samling Scholar and a Solti Accademia Young Artist, and won the Bernadette Greevy Competition. Her operatic appearances with Royal Academy Opera included Béatrice (Béatrice et Bénédict), Wu (Maxwell Davies’s Kommilitonen!, world premiere) and Fanny Price (Dove’s Mansfield Park).
As a recitalist Kelly has performed at venues including the Carnegie Hall, St Petersburg Academy of Arts, Wexford Festival Opera House and the National Concert Hall, Dublin. She has sung with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland and recorded with New World Records.
English bass-baritone Callum Thorpe makes his Royal Opera debut in the 2014/15 Season singing Pluto (Orfeo) at the Roundhouse.
Thorpe sang as a chorister at Coventry Cathedral. He obtained a PhD in immunology at Imperial College London before studying singing at the Royal Academy of Music. He sings regularly with Les Arts Florissants, his engagements including The Fairy Queen under William Christie on tour in Paris, Caen and New York, The Indian Queen under Paul Agnew, the international concert series Le Jardin de Monsieur Lully, Phobétor (Atys), Pluto (La Descente d’Orphée aux enfers) and Adonis (Venus and Adonis). Other operatic engagements include Masetto (Don Giovanni) for Glyndebourne on Tour, Garsington Opera and at the Birgitta Festival, Loudspeaker (Der Kaiser von Atlantis) for English Touring Opera, Pluto for Silent Opera, Third Fate (Hippolyte et Aricie) for Glyndebourne Festival, Billy Jackrabbit (La fanciulla del West) for Opera North and Noye (Noye’s Fludde) at the Two Moors Festival.
Thorpe’s many concert appearances include the St Matthew Passion with the Philharmonie Zuidnederland under Paul Goodwin, Israel in Egypt at the Tel Aviv Opera House with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra under Laurence Cummings, Polyphemus (Acis and Galatea) at the Festival de Thiré under Christie and Esther and Acis and Galatea at the London Handel Festival. Thorpe’s other concert repertory includes the St John Passion, Verdi’s Requiem, Mozart’s Requiem, Messiah, The Creation and Rossini’s Petite Messe solennelle.
Jette Parker Young Artist
British bass James Platt joined The Royal Opera’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the start of the 2014/15 Season. In his first Season his roles include Tom (Un ballo in maschera), Second Man in Armour (Die Zauberflöte) and Doctor Grenvil (La traviata) on the main stage, Blansac (La scala di seta, Meet the Young Artists Week) in the Linbury Studio Theatre and Charon (Orfeo) at the Roundhouse.
Platt studied at Chetham’s School of Music, the Royal Academy of Music and on the Opera Course of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He currently learns with Janice Chapman, and has also studied with Brindley Sherratt and John Tomlinson. Platt was a finalist in the GSMD’s Gold Medal Competition and was awarded the Silver Medal by the Worshipful Company of Musicians. He is also the recipient of a Samling scholarship, a Richard Van Allan Award and an Independent Opera Scholarship. In 2013 he was a Jerwood Young Artist at Glyndebourne Festival, where he sang Notary (Don Pasquale) and covered the role of Mr Flint (Billy Budd). In summer 2014 he made his debut with Welsh National Opera as High Priest of Baal (Nabucco).
Platt has appeared in concert in Glyndebourne’s Ebert Room Recital Series and the Brighton Festival, and in venues including the Bridgewater Hall, the Royal Festival Hall, Christ Church Spitalfields and the Barbican. He has sung with such leading conductors as Laurence Cummings, Andrew Davis, Colin Davis, Mark Elder, Valery Gergiev, Charles Mackerras and Paul McCreesh.
British mezzo-soprano Susan Bickley made her Royal Opera debut in 1991 as Fyodor (Boris Godunov) and has since sung Aksinya (Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk), Lyudmila (The Bartered Bride), Mrs Peacham (The Beggar’s Opera), Babulenka (The Gambler) and Virgie (Anna Nicole, world premiere), as well as in George Benjamin’s Into the Little Hill in the Linbury Studio Theatre. In the 2014/15 Season she returns to sing Virgie and Messenger (Orfeo).
Bickley studied at City University and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She has a long association with English National Opera, where she has sung roles including Eduige (Rodelinda), Jocasta (Thebans), Cassandra (The Trojans), Kabanicha (Kát’a Kabanová), Sidonie von Grasenabb (The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant), Mescalina (Le Grande Macabre) and D.I. Anne Strawson (Two Boys). Other notable appearances include Kostelnicka (Jenůfa) for Welsh National Opera and Glyndebourne, Cassandra for Opera North, Baba the Turk (The Rake’s Progress) and Mrs Grose (The Turn of the Screw) for Glyndebourne, Ghost (The Last Supper) for Berlin State Opera, Ortrud (Lohengrin) and Brangäne (Tristan und Isolde) for WNO, Herodias (Salome) in San Francisco and Dallas and Countess Geschwitz (Lulu) for Vlaamse Opera. Her role creations include a role in Andriessen’s Writing to Vermeer (Netherlands Opera).
Bickley’s concert repertory ranges from Baroque works to contemporary music. From 2011 to 2013 she sang in the Hallé’s concert performances of Der Ring des Nibelungen, as Fricka (Das Rheingold and Die Walküre) and Waltraute (Götterdämmerung). She has recorded for several leading labels.
English tenor Anthony Gregory makes his Royal Opera debut in the 2014/15 Season, singing First Shepherd (Orfeo) at the Roundhouse.
Gregory was born in Hereford and sang as a chorister with Hereford Cathedral Choir. He studied at the Royal College of Music, where his awards included the Ian Fleming Award and the Lies Askonas Prize, and the National Opera Studio. He was a Jerwood Young Artist at the Glyndebourne Festival in 2010. His engagements since have included Young Sailor (Julietta), First Armed Man (The Magic Flute), Borsa (Rigoletto) and Haemon (Thebans) for English National Opera, Prologue/Peter Quint (The Turn of the Screw) for Glyndbourne on Tour, Ferrando (Così fan tutte) and roles in The Fairy Queen for English Touring Opera, Tamino (The Magic Flute) for Northern Ireland Opera and Nevill Holt Opera, Edward Milfort (Il cambiale matrimonio) at the Academy of the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Roderigo (Otello), Agenore (Il re pastore) and Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy in concert at the Verbier Festival and Lucius (Lucio Silla in concert) for the Classical Opera Company.
Gregory’s concert performances include Messiah with Royal Scottish National Orchestra at Cadogan Hall and Wells Cathedral, music by Handel with the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, at the Royal Albert Hall, Schubert’s Rosamunde with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, St Nicolas for St Luke’s Music Society, St John Passion in Hereford Cathedral, Acis and Galatea and Judas Maccabaeus with Epsom Choral Society, Monteverdi’s Vespers with the Armonico Consort and Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Bath Bach Choir.
Indian tenor Amar Muchhala made his Royal Opera House debut in 2013 with The Opera Group, singing Chulak (The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, world premiere) in the Linbury Studio Theatre. In the 2014/15 Season he returns to The Royal Opera to sing Alex in (Glare, world premiere) in the Linbury Studio Theatre and Apollo and Shepherd (Orfeo) at the Roundhouse.
Muchhala was born in Bombay and studied business management and French literature at Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvania, and singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His operatic engagements include Mo (Barbur in London) for The Opera Group, Ferrando (Così fan tutte) for Hamburg University of Music and Theatre, Frederik (Mignon) at the Buxton Opera House, The Opera Show, directed by Mitch Sebastian, at Kilworth House Theatre, Georg (Die weisse Dame) at the Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg, Tamino (The Magic Flute) for British Youth Opera and Beppe (Pagliacci) for Haddo Opera House.
Muchhala’s concert engagements include Carmina burana at the National Centre of Performing Arts, Bombay, and performances of The Creation, Mozart’s Requiem, Messiah, Serenade to Music and George Dyson’s The Canterbury Pilgrims.
American countertenor Christopher Lowrey makes his Royal Opera debut in the 2014/15 Season, singing Hope and Shepherd in Orfeo at the Roundhouse.
Lowrey studied at Brown University, St John’s College, Cambridge, and the Royal College of Music. He was a 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Finalist and his awards include the 2013–14 Sullivan Foundation Award. He has sung for such conductors as Paul Agnew, Laurence Cummings, Christian Curnyn, Richard Egarr, Leonardo García-Alarcón, Martin Pearlman and Masaaki Suzuki. His engagements include Gernando (Faramondo) at the Göttingen Festival, L’humana fragilità (Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria) with Boston Baroque, Discordia/Euripilo/Polluce (Cavalli’s Elena) at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Joacim (Susanna) for the Iford Festival, Creonte (world premiere of Almeida’s L’Ippolito) at the Casa da Musica, Hercules (The Choice of Hercules) for Bampton Festival Opera and Alessandro, Mirtillo (Il pastor fido) and Bertarido (Rodelinda) for the London Handel Festival.
Lowrey performs widely in concert, appearances including Bach’s B Minor Mass with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, St John Passion with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Christmas Oratorio at the Cadogan Hall and in Denmark, Messiah with the Royal National Scottish Orchestra, Disinganno (Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno) with La Nuova Musica and solo recitals with the Croatian Baroque Orchestra and the Providence Museum Orchestra. His recordings include Il ritorna d’Ulisse in patria with Boston Baroque and an album of arias by Handel for the EMI Emerging Artists Series.