16 Dec Song of Orpheus is March 8-10
Les Délices Goes to Hell and Back in “Song of Orpheus”: Dramatic Baroque and Modern Works Tell the Timeless Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice
(Cleveland) – Les Délices continues its 15th Anniversary Season with a new version of Song of Orpheus, a program of musical works inspired by the Orpheus myth that first premiered as a concert film in October 2021. Featuring the LD debut of French mezzo soprano Sophie Michaux (“A fine actress [with a] smoke-tinged voice like a stealth missile, now sweetly beguiling, now darkly menacing,” Musical America) and premiere live performances of Jonathan Woody’s By much love betray’d, Song of Orpheus typifies Les Délices’ best work: “deft programming [combined with] flawless but laid-back execution that makes their music instantly accessible to modern audiences.” (ClevelandClassical.com).
Les Délices will give three performances of this thrilling program – complete with dramatic lighting and supertitles – March 8–10, 2024 in Akron, Cleveland, and Cleveland Heights.
Introducing acclaimed soloists Sophie Michaux and Jonathan Woody:
This new iteration of Song of Orpheus features French mezzo-soprano Sophie Michaux and acclaimed baritone and composer Jonathan Woody in dramatic cantatas by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Philippe Courbois, plus excerpts from Orpheus, an rarely-performed opera by Georg Philipp Telemann. In addition, audiences will enjoy the premiere live performances of Jonathan Woody’s By much love betray’d, a trio sonata commissioned by Les Délices that traces the arc of Orpheus’ life – from receiving his lyre and the gift of music from Apollo, to his fateful turn in the underworld, and his demise at the hands of the Maenads.
Steeped in both early and new music, Brooklyn-based composer Jonathan Woody’s contemporary works speak both musical languages fluently. He has often used Baroque musical conventions to bring poignancy and attention to contemporary issues and describes his style as “American Baroque.” LD Artistic Director Debra Nagy commented, “I love the trio sonata that Jonathan wrote for us and I want to play it – and have audiences hear it – as much as possible. Jonathan understands how to get the most out of our instruments (the opening viola da gamba solo is just stunning) and he uses Baroque conventions like the passacaglia-lament bass in beautiful and arresting ways.”
A grand tragedy made intimate
While Orpheus’ story is a grand tragedy for the ages, Song of Orpheus’s small-scale cantatas maximize intimacy. Artistic Director Debra Nagy explained, “In each cantata, the drama has been distilled and intensified. A single soloist takes on multiple roles while the instrumentalists enhance the psychological portrayal – whether that’s the violin embodying Orpheus’s lyre or the viola da gamba taking us on a twisting guided tour of hell.” Dramatic lighting and project supertitles at all venues will enhance the drama and the audience experience.
The inclusion of French Baroque composer Philippe Courbois’ cantata is consistent with Les Délices’ commitment to presenting “music that audiences won’t hear anywhere else.” In fact, Courbois’s rarely-heard Orphée cantata is a true gem. This deeply felt work enables baritone Jonathan Woody to give voice to three different characters (Orpheus, Pluto, and Eurydice) allowing listeners to experience an emotional journey from the land of the living down to hell and back again.
The program will conclude with excerpts from the final act of an obscure opera written in German, Italian, and French: Georg Philipp Telemann’s Orpheus. These final scenes depict Orpheus’ ultimate demise at the hands of the Maenads.
Song of Orpheus: Evocative music by Rameau, Courbois, and Jonathan Woody recounts Orpheus’ descent to the underworld.
March 8, 7:30 pm at Knight Stage at Akron Civic Theater 182 South Main Street, Akron
March 9, 7:30 pm at Inlet Dance @ Pivot Center 2937 W 25th St, Cleveland
March 10, 4:00 pm at Disciples Christian Church 3663 Mayfield Rd, Cleveland Heights