Opera Scotland

Malheurs d'Orphée 2017Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Read more about the opera Malheurs d'Orphée

The spring offering from the opera school at the Conservatoire generally uses the Alexander Gibson Opera Studio to produce small-scale pieces. On this occasion, early twentieth-century chamber works are paired under the title of Two Great French Romantic Tragedies. These are both very rarely performed, and never before seen in Scotland. The evening opens with Darius Milhaud's brief take on the Orpheus legend, Les malheurs d'Orphée. This is followed by the Swiss composer Frank Martin's alternative vision of the Tristan myth, Le vin herbé.

Milhaud's Orphée is  quite a surprising work. It is very short - three acts pass in little more than a half-hour - so much needs to be sketched in quickly. There is little indication of the familiar musician figure. He is a healer and something of a recluse, apparently happier with animals than people. Eurydice is a gypsy girl he meets and falls for. They set up home together, but she soon falls ill and dies, wherupon Orpheus returns to his village. He is eventually found by Eurydice's three sisters, who, in the role of avenging Furies, kill him.

The orchestration is very successful, with unusual sounds produced from the combinations - wind quintet and string quartet with slightly unusual line-ups, plus harp, trumpet, timpani and percussion. The sonorities are strange and charming. The undoubted highlight was an amazing funeral march for Euridice, which really should be better known. Timothy Dean produced a beautiful balanced effect.

The Kally Lloyd-Jones staging was extremely straightforward, in naive style, with a cut-out cottage for Orpheus the Woodsman, and animal costumes that would be fine in a panto or Magic Flute staging.

The cast was rightly dominated by baritone Alexey Gusev in the title role. He is a fine actor and his voice is warm and smoothly-produced while still having something of that typical Russian darkness. Anne-Marie Loveday sang with a fine sweetness of tone, though her French diction could have been a bit clearer. The trio of tradesmen - tenor, baritone, bass - were particularly good, but there was a definite sense of enjoyment projected by all the singers.

Performance Cast

Maréchale le maréchale; the blacksmith

David Lynn

Charron le charron; the wheelwright

Christopher Dollins

Vannier le vannier; the weaver

Ciprian Serban

Orphée

Alexey Gusev

Eurydice

Anne-Marie Loveday

Renard le renard; the fox

Rose Stachniewska

Loup le loup; the wolf

Joanna Harries

Sanglier le sanglier; the boar

Ravi Popoff

Ours L'ours; the bear

Colin Murray

Soeur Jumelle La soeur jumelle; the twin sister

Rose Stachniewska

Soeur Cadette La soeur cadette; the younger sister

Emma Walton

Soeur Ainée La soeur ainée (the older sister)

Lynn Bellamy

Performance DatesMalheurs d'Orphée 2017

Map List

Alexander Gibson Opera Studio (RSAMD) | Glasgow

4 Mar, 19.15 6 Mar, 19.15 8 Mar, 19.15 10 Mar, 19.15

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