The University of Toledo Department of Music will present three intimate performances of “L’Orfeo” by the UT Opera Ensemble at the Toledo Museum of Art Cloister Friday through Sunday, March 15-17.The Friday performance will be at 7 p.m. The Saturday and Sunday shows will begin at 2 p.m.
The 1607 work by Claudio Monteverdi with libretto by Alessandro Striggio is one of the oldest operas still being performed. “L’Orfeo” tells the classic Greek story of Orpheus, who travels to the underworld to attempt to bring his wife, Eurydice, back to the world of the living.
A cast of 24 with a chorus, dancers and a small orchestra will present this tragic tale surrounded by the medieval arcades of the cloister, a space steeped in history with a sacred atmosphere.
“L’Orfeo” was chosen for performance this spring because it fits with the time period represented by the cloister, said Dr. Denise Ritter Bernardini, UT assistant professor of voice and artistic director of the production. “This is a chance to see something antique alive and well.”
Since no modern English translation existed for the medieval Italian libretto, Ritter Bernardini collaborated with the opera’s stage director, Don Bernardini, on the translation used for these performances. A translation is used because the intimate space of the cloister makes it difficult to project subtitles and to avoid the noise of a projector.
“An opera fan of Bellini or Puccini may be surprised at the presentation or staging of this show,” Ritter Bernardini said. “Where a modern opera is about acting and drama, an opera from 1607 is about exotic vocalization and showing off the voice. The style of acting is also different — a baroque, stylized acting with slow, methodical gesturing.”
Produced by the Department of Music, “L’Orfeo” features UT opera students Sasha Noori, Molly Bock, Lauren Kerr, Brad Lieto, Spencer Wilhelm, Wesley Forney, Devin Desmond, Lana Miller, Nnenne Edeh and Eric Graber.
Robert Mirakian, UT instructor of music, will direct the orchestra.
Seating is limited for the free, public performances. Groups of five or more are encouraged to call 419.530.2452 to reserve seats.