May 25, 2024, 7:30 p.m.

Opernhaus Zürich
Falkenstrasse 1
8008 Zürich

On 24 February 1607, a new era in music history dawned in Mantua. L'Orfeo, the musical fable by local court composer Claudio Monteverdi, was heard for the first time, performed for a small circle of courtly guests. The premiere marked no less than the birth of opera as an art form, for the composer was the first to recognize what it can mean when music becomes a sung scene: Embedded in a dramatic plot context, the characters on stage turn their innermost feelings outward as never before. The hero of Monteverdi’s first opera is Orpheus, and the nascent Thracian singer immediately set the standard that this new form would seek to fulfill: he sings beautifully, softening the stone. His voice is imbued with the ability to completely transgress boundaries. On his way to bring back his beloved Eurydice from the underworld, he succeeds in putting the ferryman Charon to sleep with his supplicatory song on the banks of the River Styx, making it possible for him to cross the threshold to the realm of the dead. This scene alone reveals the utopian potential Monteverdi attributed to dramatic song.
Monteverdi’s operas are part of the Opernhaus Zürich’s DNA, ever since Nikolaus Harnoncourt made significant contributions to the rediscovery of the Italian composer here in the late 1970s, performing a cycle of works that received worldwide attention. Andreas Homoki’s leadership goals include the aim to present all of Monteverdi’s operas in new stage-musical readings. With this new production of L’Orfeo, this cycle, consisting of the three musical-dramatic works and supplemented by Christian Spuck’s choreographic treatment of the Eighth Madrigal, is complete. Returning to musically direct is Italian conductor and harpsichordist Ottavio Dantone. For him, historically informed performance practice is no academic exercise, but virtuosic musical practice lived out with relish. The stage director is Evgeny Titov, who is highly regarded in both the acting and opera scenes and who made his debut at the Opernhaus Zürich last season with George Benjamin’s contemporary opera Lessons in Love and Violence.


Kulturstelle contact: Ana Kitanovic email

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Registration opens on
May 11, 2024, noon