L’Orfeo in Paris

The last time I reviewed a recording of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo was ten years ago and it included Jordi Savali with La Capella Real de Catalunya and Le Concert des Nations.  Oddly enough they also figure in a recording made last year at the Opéra Comique in Paris.  Pauline Bayle’s production though is very different from the very HIP Liceu version.


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Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at the Liceu

Director Gilbert Deflo was inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in the ducal palace in Mantua, scene of the first performance of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, to try and create something similar for the much larger Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.  The result is an almost extreme HIP approach.  Sets, costumes, acting and singing style are all what we have come to expect from HIP performances of baroque works.  In this case even the conductor and orchestra wear period dress which is quite effective as conductor Jordi Savali looks remarkably like Monteverdi.  For reasons I don’t understand though the lighting plot is one that could never have been realised with baroque forces.  To further advance the “hall of mirrors” idea Deflo makes quite a lot of use of mirrors on stage reflecting the house back on itself which doesn’t really come off on video but I imagine, based on my experience with the COC’s staging of Semele, that it could work well if one was in the right part of the theatre.  There’s also a fair amount of characters entering via the auditorium including a dramatic entrance for Savali as the brass and percussion play the opening toccata from stage boxes.

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