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“Beyond the expected” – L’Orfeo on a two-week tour


“Beyond the expected” – L’Orfeo on a two-week tour

The Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Iván Fischer Opera Company organized the Vicenza Opera Festival in Italy for the second time, with three performances of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo. The production, directed and conducted by Iván Fischer, was also invited by the renowned Grand Théâtre de Genève for a performance in October. Critics praised the brilliance of the orchestra and the cast.

In 2018, the year it was founded, the Vicenza Opera Festival featured Verdi’s Falstaff; this year, however, the Chorus and Dance Ensemble of the Iván Fischer Opera Company, together with the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s ensemble, presented a Baroque opera: Monteverdi’s La favola d’Orfeo, performed on authentic period instruments. The opera production debuted before Hungarian audiences in September, at the Bridging Europe festival; in October, the performance went on tour, first visiting the world’s oldest Renaissance theater still in operation, the Teatro Olimpico, followed by the impressive Grand Théâtre de Genève.

“It goes beyond the expected: an undeniably exceptional performance,” wrote one German critic, while one Italian review highlighted the performance of the “perfect choir” and the “fantastic group of singers,” noting also that the dancers were a perfect match for the production. After the performances in Geneva, critics raved about the “brilliant” orchestra and acting in a French-language review, which also highlighted the bright and homogeneous sound of the orchestra. “We already knew that the Budapest Festival Orchestra is among the best in Europe when it comes to modern instrumental music, but we now know that they are just as enthusiastic about Baroque instruments,” the author stated, adding that there was but one thing wrong with the piece: that it was only performed two times.

The piece – whose ending was written by Iván Fischer, who also directed and conducted the performance – featured international soloists, including Emőke Baráth (Eurydice, Music), Valerio Contaldo (Orpheus), Michal Czerniawski (Shepherd, Hope), Cyril Auvity (Shepherd, Spirit), Francisco Fernández-Rueda (Shepherd, Spirit), Peter Harvey (Shepherd, Pluto), Núria Rial (Nymph, Proserpine, Bacchante), Antonio Abete (Charon, Spirit) and Luciana Mancini (The Messenger, Bacchante). Click here for the full list of performers.

The program of the Vicenza Opera Festival has expanded since the first season: in addition to the three opera performances, the ensemble also gave a gala concert featuring works by Haydn, Handel and Mozart, as well as three community concerts at nursing homes in Vicenza and a local school. “This orchestra is blessed with incredible talent: sounding like one single instrument, they project the power of music and the joy of dance,” said one Italian critic of the BFO’s concert.

Watch our video of Iván Fischer describing the background of the production.

The opera is a joint production of the Iván Fischer Opera Company, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Müpa Budapest, the Vicenza Opera Festival and the Grand Théâtre de Genève.