Orfeo

by shikuang

I have never been to any opera before so it was really interesting to see Monteverdi’s Orfeo in how all the instruments and characters blended together to produce such a significant piece of opera. Monteverdi makes great use of word painting during the show. It was amazing how they needed to play many instruments (about 41) and notes to convey the emotions of each character. Without some of the high or low notes that the instruments played along with the characters’ emotions, the audience might not be able to sympathize what Orfeo’s going through. When Orfeo was mourning the death of his wife, low notes would be played. Whereas, the hope that Orfeo carries when he tried to find his wife, high notes were played to accompany him. Since there were no subtitles to the show, the additions of instruments allowed me to be able to sense the melancholy mood and tones that the story expressed. Of course, along with the instruments, the expressions, emotions and singing techniques of the characters definitely helped convey the whole ambiance of the Greek myth. I was also fascinated in how characters sometimes would stretch some words in order to express sorrow, hope, regret, etc. On the contrary, to express anger, words were shortened. Monteverdi made so many innovations in the musical world with new themes and techniques that it was no surprise in how it made a vital contribution to opera.

I was also very impressed with all the actors and actresses for being able to sing two straight hours, especially the main characters (Even singers take a break between hours!). Musicians’ arms must be really tired as well! The costumes and the stage settings were very elaborate and complement the story very well. In terms of how the opera was played out, my first screening of opera was a great eye opener for me.

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