- 7 pm – 9 pm
- One intermission
Venue: Semperoper Dresden
Free introductory talk
- held in the Semper Opera House cellar 45 minutes before curtain-up
Post-Show Discussion following the performance (free admission).
Orpheus sings to vanquish death, hoping to save his dead wife from the underworld. And so it is entirely fitting that the history of opera should begin with a work celebrating the power of music. The premiere of Claudio Monteverdi’s »L’Orfeo« on 24 February 1607 is regarded as the birth of musical theatre. In the Semperoper, Monteverdi’s opera about the power and impotence of music can now be experienced for the first time in a new production of the original version. The conductor and lutenist Wolfgang Katschner will bring the score to life with an orchestra consisting of members of the Staatskapelle Dresden supported by performers of period instruments from Monteverdi’s time. Director and puppeteer Nikolaus Habjan, a shooting star of the Austrian theatre scene, will stage the work with a mixture of singing actors and life-size puppets.
La Musica, the embodiment of music, steps before the audience and announces her intention: music can kindle in people feelings from anger to love, as well as joy in the harmony of the cosmos. The myth of the singer Orfeo and his glorious deeds shall serve as an example.
The singer Orfeo has won the heart of Eurydice after a long courtship and is now celebrating his wedding with her.
While Orfeo is still singing about his good fortune, he receives the news that Eurydice has died of a snake bite. Orfeo decides to descend to the underworld to win back Eurydice, or else to die himself.
Guided by La Speranza, Hope, Orfeo arrives at the river that flows around the underworld. Though he is unable to persuade the ferryman Charon to take him to the other shore, when Charon falls asleep he crosses into the realm of shadows himself.
Pluto, the god of the underworld, is persuaded by his wife Proserpina to permit Orfeo to take his Eurydice back to the world of the living. His only condition is that Orfeo may not look at his wife on the passageway to the world above. But on the way, Orfeo begins to doubt whether Eurydice is really faithfully following him. He turns around – and loses his lover a second time.
Back on earth, Orfeo laments his fate, but he is answered only by Echo. Apollo, god of the arts and father of Orpheus, reminds him of the transience of happiness and sorrow on this earth. He takes his son with him to heaven.