Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Orphée Sneak Preview

Strawberry BowlLast night I was part of an invited audience for a preview of Ensemble Parallèle's up-coming production of Philip Glass’s Orphée. In an hour-long presentation, artistic director & conductor Nicole Paiement gave us an informative overview of the work & led several excerpts performed by cast members Eugene Brancoveanu, Susannah Biller, John Duykers & Brooke Muñoz with piano accompaniment. Even though the singers have only just begun rehearsals, they sound like they will be a terrific cast. Baritone Eugene Brancoveanu's gorgeous & communicative singing as Orphée made me think I understood French perfectly.

The opera is based closely on the Jean Cocteau film Orphée, which was playing when the audience came in. Indeed, the libretto is essentially the dialogue from the movie, a concept which one audience member declared "insane" during the Q & A. Ms. Paiement engagingly explained the ways in which the opera is stylistically French in its lyricism & yet completely characteristic of Philip Glass.

Director Brian Staufenbiel discussed the staging, which will present the underworld as a surreal circus. The motorcycle henchmen from the movie are represented by a roue cyr, a kind of giant metal hula hoop with an acrobat rolling around inside it. We also saw samples of videos featuring the cast, which will be projected inside 5 pictures frames above the set. Ensemble Parallèle will present a further peak at the production at the free Friday Night at the de Young on January 28 at 6:30pm & 7:45pm.

§ Orphée Sneak Preview
Ensemble Parallèle
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
January 18, 2011, 6pm

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