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Seattle Opera.


Jun. 2-10, 2018

Love's Journey to Hell and Back


A chamber opera presented by our Programs & Partnerships Department
Music by Christoph Gluck
Original Libretto by Ranieri de’ Calzabigi
English-language Libretto by Lucy Tucker Yates

Journey to hell and back with a new twist on Gluck’s classic telling of Orpheus and Eurydice. A groundbreaking adaptation of the legendary protagonist’s descent into grief and subsequent return to grace receives an intimate staging with all-female leading characters and creative team.

In this timeless tale of love lost, lamented, and reborn, the anointed artist O slips into a feverish dream while sitting vigil at the hospital bedside of her mortally wounded wife. In the blink of an eye, O experiences a flood of emotional trials which threaten to forever extinguish the bond she shares with her beloved E. After demonstrating the depth of their love, O and E are led back from the brink by A (Amore) – the surgeon with the power to save E's life.

Performed at Seattle Opera Studios, 200 Terry Avenue North, Seattle.

Performed in English.
Approximate running time is 80 minutes with no intermission.

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Director's Statement

Stage director Kelly Kitchens brings O+E  to life with an all-female creative team and cast of singers. In this new twist on the classic myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and their universal story of love and loss, O is an artist waiting by the bedside of her wife E, a soldier. A (Amore), traditionally depicted as a goddess, is the surgeon whose hands determine their fate.

“We tell this story with two women, a married couple, because love is universal,” Kitchens says. “We should all be free to express our love—and grief—for the people we care about.”

Kitchens was inspired to place the opera in a dreamlike hospital room after almost losing her own husband. As O prepares for the worst, she will ask herself what she could have done differently. When the surgeon advises her not to “look,” how can she not follow her memories to a last argument or to their last best day?

Together, the couple journeys the psychological landscape of their love and their fears of losing each other. “Our production holds space for those who have lost a loved one,” says Kitchens. “It’s an offering of love, light, and music amid the darkness.”

The Story of O+E

The opera will be an English translation. The music is Gluck’s original music (these roles are often performed by two female singers). There will be no intermission.

A new English version of Gluck’s Orfeo and Euridice

O (Orfeo)—an artist, wife to E
E (Euridice)—a soldier, wife to O
A (Amore)—the surgeon who holds O and E’s fate in her hands.

The Story
A prepares to perform surgery. O, sitting by her wife’s bed, prepares for the worst. While E is taken into surgery, O’s mind dives into the nightmare of losing her wife. She ventures into a landscape of her memories of E. Some of these places are full of darkness: a war zone where E fought; an argument between them; regrets and questions. What could I have done differently to save E? Some places—including their last best day together, their love, the healing power of O’s art—are full of light. O sees E again in the land of the dead, but this second chance comes with conditions: O can bring E back, but only if she doesn’t look at E. If O looks, she will lose E forever.

O’s hellish journey is interrupted when A returns with the news.

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