Chamber opera premiere by Erato Ensemble
Composer: Stefan Hintersteininger
Libretto: Maria Reva
Saturday, March 21st, 8:00pm
Orpheum Annex, 823 Seymour Street, Vancouver
Tickets: $15 advance (available here), $25 at the door
Watch the Hound is a chamber opera based on the Orpheus and Eurydice myth. Orpheus, reputed charmer of all things living, descends to the Underworld to rescue his wife, only to find her unwilling to leave.
“[Eurydice’s] only recorded words were sighs of pain. She was never really a woman, always an allegory, sketchy and unsatisfactory.” (Ann Roe, Orpheus: The Song of Life)
While many versions of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth exist, the general story is as follows: Eurydice was a tree spirit, and Orpheus sang her to life. Shortly afterward Eurydice died of a snake bite, and Orpheus set out to rescue his beloved from the Underworld, land of the dead. Hades allowed Orpheus to retrieve Eurydice on one condition: Orpheus was to walk in front of her without looking back until they both reached the land of the living. When Orpheus stepped back into the Upperworld, however, he turned back to make sure Eurydice was still behind him, and she fell back down to the Underworld.
While researching the Orpheus and Eurydice myth for Watch the Hound, I found bountiful information on Orpheus but relatively little on Eurydice. Her character seems only half-formed when she is alive, and I wanted to explore this idea. How would she fare by herself in the Underworld? When, in the original myth, Orpheus turns back to make sure Eurydice is behind him, is he simply impatient or does he doubt she will follow him out?
About Erato Ensemble:
Erato is an art-song chamber collective formed in 2006 by tenor/composer William George and soprano/composer Catherine Laub. Erato’s mission is to preserve the art-song tradition, while creating new works in the genre, and to advance the public’s appreciation of the arts by providing performances in public places. (www.eratoensemble.com)
Illustration: Maria Reva