Peabody Chamber Opera presents


by Claudio Monteverdi

text by Alessandro Striggio


Peabody Baroque Ensemble

Webb Wiggins, conductor

Roger Brunyate, stage director

Christine Glazier, choreographer

Mary Bova, costume designer

Douglas Nelson, lighting designer


Friday & Saturday, March 7 & 8, 2003, at 8:00 PM
Baltimore Museum of Art, 10 Art Museum Drive, Baltimore
Admission $16 / Seniors $8 / Students with ID $5
Box Office: 410/659–8100 ext. 2


Production photographs by Jesse Hellman
Baltimore Sun review
Opera at Peabody home


A Ritual of Music: Stage director Roger Brunyate discusses the history of Monteverdi’s Orfeo and its relevance to our own time.

A Modern Orfeo? Program note further explaining the concept of the present production.

Claudio Monteverdi’s opera Orfeo, subtitled “A fable in music” and first produced at the Mantuan court in 1607, may not be the first opera ever written, but it is the first still to appear on operatic stages today. Even so, it is a formidable undertaking, given the splendor of its first performance and the unusually wide range of instruments called for in the score. Recent research, however, has indicated that Monteverdi probably performed the work with very small forces. As such, it is thus a fitting undertaking for the Peabody Chamber Opera, which has produced a series of early operatic masterpieces every year since 1996.

Orpheus is recognized as the archetypal musician, and on one level the opera is essentially an allegory of the power of music. The wedding celebrations of Orpheus and Euridice in the first act take place entirely in music, through madrigals and dances. When she dies and Orpheus descends to the underworld to reclaim her, his aria to Charon, “Possente spirito,” is one of the most impressive coloratura showpieces ever written, yet deeply moving. And the apotheosis, when Orpheus is taken into the heavens by Apollo, is a joyous hymn to the triumph of music.

Yet the opera has a double relevance for a country newly aware of the possibility of sudden random tragedy, since it deals with the problem of explaining the inexplicable, handling grief, and surviving to live again. It also examines the difficulty for all of us, but especially for the artist, of reconciling the ideal with the possible.

The music will be directed by Webb Wiggins, leading an orchestra of original instruments. Ryan de Ryke, in the title role, will head up the all-student cast. The stage direction will be by Roger Brunyate, with choreography by Christine Glazier. Making a departure from the white wigs and brocade costumes of earlier Peabody baroque presentations, this production will be more abstract in order to come closer to real life, calling on elements of traditional Greek and Asian theatre, retelling the old fable in a new accent.


Principal Roles


OrfeoRyan de Ryke
EuridiceMelanie Zayas
La MusicaLisa Taylor
MessagieraAlisa Grundmann
SperanzaChi-Chun Chan
CaronteTom McNichols
Proserpina   Elizabeth Healy
PlutoneNicholas Hay
ApolloSteven Ziegler