Chicago Opera Theater to Present ORPHEUS & EURIDICE at Welles Park Pool, 12/19-22
Chicago Opera Theater will dive into the pool again for a remount of its highly successful production of Ricky Ian Gordon's Orpheus & Euridice in partnership with the Chicago Park District in collaboration with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events as part of the Classics in the Parks series. Following the sold-out run of four performances at the Eckhart Park Pool in the West Town neighborhood in early November, COT will bring three additional performances to Lincoln Square on December 19, 20, and 22 at the Welles Park Pool. Tickets will once again be free to the public.
"Taking opera into the waters of a pool had the West Town community cheering and standing in line. It's time to create more outside-the-box opera experiences across the waters of our city. I am very grateful to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Park District for their visionary support," says General Director Andreas Mitisek. "Get ready, Lincoln Square - you're next!"
"As part of the Chicago Cultural Plan, we are working to ensure that all Chicagoans have access to a variety of arts experiences that will enrich lives and foster cultural growth," said Mayor Emanuel. "After attending one of the November performances, I know firsthand that Orpheus & Euridice is a production that should not be missed."
COT's original cast, featuring former COT Young Artist Valerie Vinzant as Euridice and acclaimed clarinetist Todd Palmer, all return for the remount in December. This unique theatrical experience will transport attendees into the River Styx with the actors playing around, on, and IN the water. This modern retelling of the famous Greek myth is directed and designed by Andreas Mitisek, conducted by Stephen Hargreaves at the piano, with lighting design by David Lee Bradke.
Performances are held at the Welles Park Pool located at 2333 W. Sunnyside Avenue: Thursday, December 19; Friday, December 20; and Sunday, December 22. Tickets are free to the public in partnership with the Chicago Park District. A limited number of tickets to each performance will be available for advance reservation by calling (312) 704-8414 or by visiting www.chicagooperatheater.org (limit two per person). Most tickets will be available for Walk-Up Only; tickets become available at the Welles Park Pool at 5:00pm each day of a performance.
Gordon's operatic song cycle Orpheus & Euridice had its start in 1995 when Todd Palmer asked Ricky Ian Gordon to write a composition for clarinet, piano and voice. The result was Gordon's very personal take on the Orpheus myth written as his partner was losing his battle to AIDS. Inspired by Marcel Camus' 1959 film, Black Orpheus, Gordon explains, "I wanted to write my version of that movie. Act I was the birth of love. Act II was the stealing away of that gift...I see Todd as Orpheus playing his "pipe" instead of a lute or a lyre, and Euridice as both herself and the storyteller." The initial work premiered in a shorter, semi-staged version, as part of the Cooper Union 2001 concert series. The first showing prompted the longer, staged version in 2005 performed at the Lincoln Center starring Elizabeth Futral, Todd Palmer, pianist Melvin Chen, and the Doug Varone Dancers. The production won an OBIE Award. Long Beach Opera commissioned a chamber orchestration of Orpheus & Euridice, which premiered in a Long Beach swimming pool in 2008, and was brought back by popular demand in 2010.
Orpheus, the son of Apollo and the muse Calliope, was a musician and poet whose lyrical melodies could tame wild animals, cause trees and rocks to dance, and divert rivers from their courses. When his young wife Eurydice died, Orpheus journeyed to the Underworld to rescue her. He charmed the Ruler of the Underworld with his music and was allowed to return with her to Earth as long as he didn't look back along the way. As he neared Earth, he was anxious to reassure himself Eurydice was still behind him. As he turned, she vanished back into the Underworld. His pleas to the Ferryman on the River Styx to return him back to the Underworld went unheeded and he mourned the loss of Eurydice a second time. The Thracian women, angry that following his return Orpheus paid them no attention; threw their spears at him; tore him in pieces; and tossed his head and lyre into the Hebrus river. Jupiter threw his lute into the stars while the Shade of Orpheus entered the Underworld where he was finally reunited with Eurydice.