Markellos Chryssicos is an accomplished Greek conductor/cembalist whose Orchestra “Latinitas Nostra” has proven to be an exceptional orchestra dedicated mainly to Baroque Music.
To celebrate the 450 years of Monteverdi’s birth, he presented a new performance of the composer’s most famous opera, “Orfeo”.
He opted for an entirely new reading of the score, a decision which will certainly divide the audience at pros and cons, but will leave no one uninterested. This production was certainly out of the ordinary not only because he fortified the orchestra with electronic instruments and means ( transcriptions and live electronics by P.Iliopoulos), but due to the fact that for the first time in Greece he presented the original ending of the opera in which Orfeo is killed and torn apart from the Bacchae.
There are many revisions of the Monteverdi Operas which have been presented from 10 to a full orchestra productions, in fact many have transcribed Monteverdi’s scores for full orchestra, such as the “Lamenti” which were transcribed by Carl Orff. Therefore what M.Chryssicos did with the score is not something unknown. The interventions were all done with a great respect for the score , with its intricate orchestration, but the enhancement of the orchestra with electronic means, magnified the dramatic effects demanded by Monteverdi. This was especially effective in the Hades scene, when Orfeo descends to the Underworld. The enhancement of the instruments were especially effective, creating a sombre atmosphere. I was especially impressed by the deafening finale of Orfeo’s death, the dissonances symbolising the destruction of Harmony and Order which Orfeo represented. This idea of dissonances in various parts of the score was especially impressive reminding us that what Orfeo’s Music symbolised , is destroyed by the Underworld and the coming of Bacchus’s new religion. It was indeed a Modern “Orfeo”, a revisiting of Monteverdi’s masterpiece. Various added sounds such as wispers emanating from the dead, were especially effective creating an imposing atmosphere.
What really stole the show, so to speak, was the inspired direction of the young director Τhanos Papakonstantinou, and the wonderful sparse but so imaginative scenery and costumes of Niki Psihogiou. One has to mention the atmospheric lighting of Christina Thanassoula. The whole was one of the most interesting and imaginative production I have seen of this Opera.
Vocally, the voice of Juan Sancho was suited perfectly to the role, his rendition of the music was sensitive and mellow, especially in his great aria “possente Spirito..” which he delivered with a heartbreaking voice. Anastasia Kotsali sang Euridice with dramatic tension and a beautyful vocal line. Her vocalita was especially impressive. Lenia Zafiropoulou is one of the most talented singers and sang the role of “Speranza” in an exemplary fashion. The cavernous voice of Marios Sarantidis was most effective in the role of Charonte , as was the voice of Petros Magoulas in the role of Pluto.
One must mention especially the so talented Savinna Gianattou, a very famous singer (alas not of the operatic stage), who undertook the role of the Head Priestess of Dionysos.. The sounds she emanated, words sounding like screams was indicative of her exceptional vocal technique, she was one of the most frightening presence on stage expressing to the full the manic state in which she found herself.
All in all it was a very interesting performance, although sometimes the sound of the speakers were above average especially for those sitting near the stage, but this is a minor complain in what was an inspiring performance, perhaps some would characterise it as “irreverent” , but always within the Tradition of the performance of the period without being restricted by any historical or Academic considerations. A trully Music Theatre with a twist…