Orphée et Eurydice at the Lyric Opera House

Orphée et Eurydice at the Lyric Opera House
Andrana Chuchman as Eurydice and The Joffrey Ballet in Orphée et Eurydice, Lyric Opera of Chicago, 2017. Photo: Todd Rosenberg.

Lyric’s 63rd season New production by
John Neumeier features Lyric debut of The Joffrey Ballet

Je frémis, je languis, je frissonne, je tremble, je pâlis.” (“I shudder, I languish, I shiver, I tremble, I grow pale.”)

Orphée et Eurydice, by Christoph Willibald Gluck, is based on the mythological character Orpheus. It belongs to the genre of the azione teatrale, meaning an opera on a mythological subject with choruses and dancing.

Thus, the perfect opera to introduce the Lyric’s first collaboration with The Joffrey Ballet and Friday’s announcement that starting in 2020 The Joffrey will become a resident company at Lyric moving from their current home at the Auditorium Theatre.

You’ll find a lot more dance and orchestral music in the Lyric production of this seldom-seen French version of Gluck’s operacomposed over a decade after Gluck first wrote Orfeo ed Euridice in Italian in 1762 then revised it in 1774 for the Paris Opera.

Director, choreographer and production designer, John Neumeier has made dance entirely central to the storytelling. Dancers fill the stage throughout this vision of the opera.

The fantasy story which has been produced in many guises literally goes to hell and back–all in the name of love. Orphée travels to Hades to bring his dead wife, Eurydice (Andriana Chuchman), back to earth.

In the current production Orphée is a modern-day choreographer with Russian-born tenor Dmitry  Korchak playing the leading role. His amazing voice and range carries beautifully throughout the massive Opera House.

 Orphee and Eurydice. Lyric Opera of Chicago. Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg OrphÈe et Eurydice Piano run through © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2017

Orphee and Eurydice. Lyric Opera of Chicago. Photo credit: Todd Rosenberg

Eurydice, his wife and a prima ballerina the graceful, ethereal Andriana Churchman, with her lush voice and impressive dancing melded beautifully with the Joffrey dancers.

Amour (Lauren Snouffer), who in the original opera was a god, has been transformed into Orphée’s production assistant.

The story, a simple plot, is launched when Eurydice (Orphée’s wife as well as the prima ballerina) arrives late for the rehearsal of her husband’s new ballet, The Isle of the Dead. They quarrel. She bolts–running out into the street where she is struck by a car and killed.

He is devastated and consumed with grief and guilt. His assistant Amour tells Orphée he must convince the gods to bring her back to life–thus the trip to hell and back, with a stop in in Elysium (in Greek mythology, the paradise where the gods could confer immortality).

mitry-Korchak_Andriana-Chuchman Orphee et Eurydice Dress Rehearsal. Photo: Todd Rosenthal © Todd Rosenberg Photography 2017

mitry-Korchak_Andriana-Chuchman Orphee et Eurydice Dress Rehearsal. Photo: Todd Rosenthal
© Todd Rosenberg Photography 2017

For this to happen, Orphée is made to promise never to look at his wife once she is brought back to life until they return to earth.

The French revision of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice, at the Lyric rightfully can be called– an opera with dance.

The beautifully presented opera from the staging, lighting and costumes, along with the three principal artists featured 60 members of the Lyric Opera Chorus portray the Denizens of Hades & the Blessed Spirits of Elysium, prepared by Michael Black Lyric’s chorus master; 47 members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra in the orchestra pit plus 6 stageband musicians backstage, conducted by Harry Bicket; and 43 dancers of The Joffrey Ballet, prepared by director-choreographer John Neumeier.

Highly recommended.

Seven performances through October 15.

About Neumeier. John Neumeier debuted as a dancer at Lyric in the 1961 world premiere of The Harvest (by Vittorio Giannini), and is the first person in Lyric’s history to serve as director, choreographer, and production designer (sets, costumes, lighting). Heinrich Tröger (Lyric debut) is associate set designer and Chris Maravich is responsible for lighting realization

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Filed under: Chicago Lyric Opera.

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