Review: West Coast Premiere; Orphee, an Opera by Philip Glass
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Portland was honored with the privilege of hosting the West Coast premiere of Orphee, a relatively new opera composed by Philip Glass. Orphee is a 2 Act story of mysterious death in juxtaposition of two worlds --– driven by a score from Philip Glass. The music itself worthy of a concert, beautifully composed, demonstrating the characteristic hypnotism of polyrhythm mixed in a rich palette, patterned by blocks and cycles; the kind of stuff that Glass is venerated for. And the Portland Opera Orchestra performs the score by Glass beautifully.
In a modern setting, the story of a famous poet, Orphee and his jealousy of an 18 year old up and coming poet, Cegeste, who is admired and supported by the princess which stirs an obsession from Orphee. As the story unfolds the princess seems to communicate with another world – a world of the dead. Orphee witnesses a resurrection, putting him in an uncomfortable place, and a seemingly uninvolved chauffeur of the princess gives Orphee some radio that transmits poetic statements, one after the next. Orphee obsessively transcribes the phrases, one after the other, neglecting his newly pregnant wife. In his neglect, Orphee loses her to the princess and the other world, and again, the seemingly uninvolved chauffer turns over the mirror of the other world, where Orphee goes to retrieve his wife. And the plot thickens. The stage is determined by a mirror pattern; the story is told in 2 settings, 2 acts, and 2 worlds. One begins to realize there is a duality in all things and what makes this opera compelling is that it calls out this human struggle, in the mirror of juxtaposition. Like many 2 act plays, the ending is not so much a resolution, but a mystery folded on to itself.
Portland Opera is performing Orphee November 12th and 14th at Keller Auditorium. The performances are being recorded for an upcoming release, so look for that. Reporting the arts for K-B-O-O, this is Sean Ongley.