PBS will feature Lyric’s Orphée et Eurydice on GREAT PERFORMANCES, showcasing a new production created by legendary choreographer John Neumeier, featuring The Joffrey Ballet, the Lyric Opera Orchestra & Chorus, conducted by Harry Bicket, and starring Dmitry Korchak, Andriana Chuchman, and Lauren Snouffer.
WNET and THIRTEEN selected the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s premiere production of the 1774 Paris version of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice to be part of GREAT PERFORMANCES on PBS.
Earlier this month, members of the WNET team traveled to Chicago to film Orphée et Eurydice performances at the Lyric Opera House. PBS’s GREAT PERFORMANCES broadcast of Orphée et Eurydice is slated to air later in 2018.
Now in its 45th season, PBS’s GREAT PERFORMANCES has an extensive history of capturing noteworthy live performances for national broadcast. Matthew Diamond, who directed NBC’s televised live production of The Wiz, and the world-premiere of Bel Canto – the Opera, will direct the television presentation of Orphée et Eurydice, collaborating with the award-winning production team from WNET and GREAT PERFORMANCES executive producer David Horn.
One of the most influential works in the history of opera, Orfeo ed Eurydice (1762) – last seen at the Lyric Opera House in 2006 in its original Italian version – was revised significantly by composer Christoph Willibald Gluck for the Paris Opera in 1774. This version, Orphée et Eurydice, altered the role of Orpheus from alto castrato to high tenor, and added a significant amount of ballet music to the score (including two celebrated scenes, the “Dance of the Furies” and the “Dance of the Blessed Spirits”).
Familiar from Greek myths, the plot centers on the poet-musician Orphée (Dmitry Korchak), whose singing was so beautiful that it could charm the fierce guardians of the Underworld. Encouraged by the god of love, Amour (Lauren Snouffer), Orphée travels to Hades to bring his dead wife, Eurydice (Andriana Chuchman), back to earth.
Dance is central to the storytelling in this new production: Orphée is a modern-day choreographer, his Eurydice a prima ballerina, and Amour is the choreographer’s assistant. Dancers fill the stage throughout this version of the opera.
Integral to the new production is the participation of The Joffrey Ballet in the highly acclaimed company’s first performances with Lyric Opera House. The opera is sung in French, with English translations above the stage for the live audience and onscreen for the broadcast audience.
The renowned English conductor Harry Bicket conducts the new Lyric production, which is directed and choreographed by John Neumeier, who also designed the sets, costumes, and lighting. Heinrich Tröger is associate set designer, lighting realization is by Chris Maravich, Michael Black is chorus master, and August Tye is Lyric’s ballet mistress.
“All of us at Lyric are delighted to share the excitement of this important new production of Orphée et Eurydice with the GREAT PERFORMANCES audience,” said Lyric’s general director Anthony Freud. “It is a breathtakingly beautiful piece of music theater newly imagined by John Neumeier, the extraordinary choreographer who began his dance career in Chicago, then moved to Germany, where he has been artistic director of the Hamburg Ballet for over four decades. The cast stars three outstanding international artists plus the exceptional dancers of The Joffrey Ballet, with conductor Harry Bicket, who is legendary in this repertoire, leading the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Thanks to GREAT PERFORMANCES, this brilliant new production will be seen and heard by many more people than can attend the live performances here at Lyric.”
GREAT PERFORMANCES executive producer David Horn is also excited to showcase the production: “With a history of Lyric Opera of Chicago coproductions dating back to 1980, we are delighted to again partner with Lyric to bring this innovative interpretation of an early classical opera to a national audience, as well as welcome back the Joffrey Ballet to the primetime spotlight on GREAT PERFORMANCES, ” he said.