Tragic story has rare happy ending

'Orfeo ed Euridice' on stage at Shepherd

'Orfeo ed Euridice' on stage at Shepherd

September 20, 2007|By JULIE E. GREENE

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Just like the more well-known tale of "Romeo and Juliet," the love story of Orfeo and Euridice ends in tragedy, except for tonight and tomorrow at Shepherd University.

The university's Music Department is presenting a version with a rare happy ending about the two lovers, director Joe Yates said. The couple usually is referred to by their Greek names, Orpheus and Eurydice.

In the typical tale, Orfeo mourns his love and travels to the underworld to try to rescue her. After initially refusing Orpheus' request, the Furies are moved by Orfeo's singing and allow Euridice to return to the land of living with Orfeo. Of course, there is a condition: Orfeo cannot look at her during their travel back.

In a moment of weakness, Orfeo turns back to see her and she is banished back to Hades.

In the 1762 version, the one the university is performing, by composer Christoph Willibald Gluck, Amore appears and saves Orfeo from suicide. Amore rewards Orfeo's bravery by allowing Euridice to live again, Yates said.


The workshop presentation of the opera focuses on the vocal performances by the students, Yates said. Because the lyrics are in Italian, the students will occasionally hold the score as they perform.

There will not be a full set, lighting and sound effects.

A chorus of 21 students will perform a hybrid version of a Greek chorus, meaning they will sing part of the story to the audience where narration is needed, Yates said. Chorus members also will interact as characters with the three principals.

Unlike many operas that are several hours long, this performance is 90 minutes, Yates said.

He hopes the brevity and uncomplicated story will attract not only fans of opera, but newcomers interested in giving opera a chance.

While the story has its tragedies, Yates said some of the music is moving and uplifting, even joyful.

If you go ...

WHAT: "Orfeo ed Euridice" opera, a workshop presentation

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today and Friday, Sept. 21

WHERE: Frank Center Theater, Shepherd University, Shepherdstown, W.Va.

COST: Tickets are $10; $5 for students 18 and younger; and free for Shepherd students and Friends of Music MAC cardholders.

DIRECTIONS: From Hagerstown, take Md. 65 south to Sharpsburg. Turn right onto Md. 34 and cross the Potomac River. Go to four-way stop and turn right on West German Street. Go about one-eighth of a mile and turn right on West Campus Drive. Free parking.

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