Opera Company Of Middlebury Presents Offenbach's ORPHEE AUX ENFERS

Offenbach turns the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice on its head.

By: May. 20, 2022
Opera Company Of Middlebury Presents Offenbach's ORPHEE AUX ENFERS

The gods are bored out of their minds.

Up on Mount Olympus there's nothing to do but be good and live on a steady diet of ambrosia - which turns out to be pretty disgusting. So when the gods get the chance to go to hell on a rescue mission, they're thrilled. Hell has to be a lot more fun than heaven.

As it turns out, they were right. Once there, it's a wild party, and everybody is doing the "galop infernal," to the famous music also known as The Can-Can.

That's the kind of wild irreverence found in Jacques Offenbach's Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld), which will be performed by the Opera Company of Middlebury from June 3-11, 2022.

"I've always felt that comic opera needs to be laugh-out-loud funny," says director Douglas Anderson, "and Orphée is hilarious. It's so irreverent that it's closer to Saturday Night Live than it is to La Bohème."

It's not surprising that Anderson thinks Orphée is the ideal "gateway" opera, perfect for young people and anyone new to the art form. "The music is exhilarating, and the story is wonderfully absurd."

Offenbach turns the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice on its head. Instead of a tale of courage and undying love, in which a husband goes into hell to recuse his wife - it's the same tale at the heart of Broadway's Hadestown -- Offenbach presents a bickering married couple who hate each other, gods who act badly, and a general picture of a society that's gone off the rails.

Now in its 19th season, Opera Company of Middlebury is known as one of the best small-town opera companies in the country. Professional singers come from great distances to work with OCM, and the operas are presented with full orchestra, sets and costumes. "All of this in our tiny 232-seat theater, which gives our productions an intimacy and power that you just don't find in the huge theaters that house most opera companies."

Anderson jokes that at the 4,000-seat Metropolitan Opera the fourth balcony is so far away you're in different zip code. "But at OCM," says Anderson, "the singers are in the palm of your hand, up close and personal. It's a very powerful experience."

Orphée aux enfers will be directed by Anderson, with musical direction by Guest Conductor Clinton Smith. Costumes are designed by Debra Anderson, lighting by Neil Curtis, and props by Kate Tilton. The entire production is managed by Mary Longey.

Performances of Orphée aux enfers are June 3, 5, 9 and 11. Tickets may be purchased through www.ocmveront.org, or by calling or visiting the Town Hall Theater Box Office between noon-5pm, Monday through Friday: 802 382-9222. Ask the box office about OCM's new program "Opera Under 26" that presents the opportunity for people under age 26 to get a free ticket to the opera!