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Opera in H.D. at Cinema 9

The latest production of the Metropolitan Opera's H.D. series to be shown at Cinema 9 in South Burlington is Gluck's "Orfeo ed Euridice", an opera that has been out of the Met's repertoire since my teenage years.

Why exactly it has been out of the repertoire is hard to understand, since it provides for only three soloists, chorus, dancers and the orchestra and a conductor. In operatic terms is a rather small-scale work to tackle. It can be performed either in its original form for countertenor (now usually sung by a mezzo or contralto) or in its French version (Gluck's own arranging) for tenor. The Met chose to showcase one of its own, the mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe, whom advertising has been touting as a voice of the century, and who certainly performed the role admirably.

Bly the certainly has an appropriate voice for the role, since her lower register is uncommonly well-placed. She is physically a bit like a Henry Moore sculpture, and yet she seemed exactly the right person to sing the role, since she was an impassioned Orpheus. I hope the Met will use her in some other mezzo-soprano roles that will be part of a future HD broadcast series, since it is hard to evaluate the voice of the century hype as being true on the strength of a single performance. But she certainly can sing and out of this there can be little doubt after hearing her sing the famous aria, "Che far senza Euridice". That she is an accomplished vocal actress is also clear. May we hear more of her, even as soon as next year?

As her Euridice the soprano Danielle De Niese was admirably cast. She has a gorgeous voice which blended with Blythe's mezzo fabulously. She also understands the psychology of the role of Euridice, and the scene between her and Orpheus is tense with her pleading for him at least to look upon her. A perfect performance!

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