Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo

The Roundhouse, Camden

January 2015

The Royal Opera and the Roundhouse today announce an exciting collaboration: a new production of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, which will receive eight performances at the Roundhouse in January 2015.

Directed by Michael Boyd and conducted by early music specialist Christian Curnyn, in a newly commissioned English translation by Don Paterson, this collaboration marks the first-ever staging of L’Orfeo by The Royal Opera, as well as the first time this unique north London venue will host an opera.

Kasper Holten, Director of Opera for The Royal Opera said:  “I am thrilled that we have the opportunity to expand The Royal Opera’s exploration of early music repertory in collaboration with such an exciting partner, particularly as this will be the first opera specifically conceived for the Roundhouse.

I am delighted that after L’Ormindo with Shakespeare’s Globe this year, Christian Curnyn will once again be working with us on this collaboration with the Roundhouse.”

Marcus Davey, the Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the Roundhouse said: “We are really delighted to be fusing the expertise of the Roundhouse and the Royal Opera House to create an important new version of this great opera. Developing L’Orfeo together is an opportunity to think of our building in a new way and introduce our audiences – many of whom are under 25 to opera. The Roundhouse is however more than just a legendary venue it’s a creative centre used by over 3,000 11-25 year olds each year. L’Orfeo will also give these young people a chance to contribute to a new and exciting production as film makers, technicians and performers.”

This new collaboration will see Michael Boyd, former Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, make his opera directing debut.  He is known for his many productions of Shakespeare plays, including his staging of the Olivier Award-winning ‘Histories Cycle’, which transferred to the Roundhouse in spring 2008 to enormous critical acclaim.

He will be joined by his regular collaborator, stage designer Tom Piper, and lighting designer Jean Kalman.

The conductor for the production, early music specialist Christian Curnyn, has emerged as one of the UK’s leading conductors specializing in the Baroque and Classical repertory.  The founder of the Early Opera Company, he has most recently received critical acclaim for his conducting of Handel’s Rodelinda at English National Opera.

Monteverdi’s 1607 opera tells the story of the legendary musician Orpheus, and his descent to the Underworld to recover his beloved Euridice.  L’Orfeo demonstrates the power of music to move, as Orpheus, through his singing, persuades the gods of the underworld to relinquish his dead wife Euridice and allow her to return with him to the regions of the living – on condition he does not look at her on his return journey.  Michael Boyd will be working with a young and dynamic cast led by Hungarian-Romanian baritone Gyula Orendt and British sopranos Mary Bevan and Susanna Hurrell.

L’Orfeo marks the Royal Opera House’s first collaboration with the Roundhouse, and reflects the commitment of both venues to offer opportunities to young people.

Young singers will form an ensemble chorus as part of the production, and musicians from various youth ensembles will work with a composer to create and perform a series of introductory fanfares to be played before each performance.  The digital and new media teams from the Roundhouse and the Royal Opera House will work together to provide skill development opportunities around film and digital projects.

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