Accessibility links


Sign In

Your Reaction: Orfeo

What did you think of Michael Boyd's Royal Opera/Roundhouse production of the first great opera?

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

14 January 2015 at 10.53am | 29 Comments

Press reviews:

Telegraph ★★★★
Guardian ★★★★
Arts Desk ★★★★
Londonist ★★★★
MusicOMH ★★★★
Evening Standard ★★★
Financial Times ★★★
What's On Stage ★★★

What did you think of Orfeo?

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

14 January 2015 at 10.53am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Michael Boyd, Orfeo, Production, review, Social Media, twitter, your reaction

This article has 29 comments

  1. Ronnie McBryde responded on 14 January 2015 at 11:36am Reply

    Gyula Orendt is excellent in what is a slow-going production/slow-going opera.

    Not quite sure why the Roundhouse management thought that the audience of an early C17 opera would want the throbbing beat of a nightclub dj in the foyer as we left the building.

    • lizbie responded on 15 January 2015 at 9:10am

      Well, quite, Ronnie - and the thumping drowned out the specially written fanfares at the start!

    • Andrew Stafford responded on 19 January 2015 at 3:21pm

      I agree with the inappropriate house music. It left me feeling a bit annoyed and angty that this rubbish should be imposed on me after having listened to something so good.

      Poor administration and a bar without slimline tonic apart, I thought it was a great night out.

  2. Russell Plows responded on 14 January 2015 at 12:08pm Reply

    interminable. The kind of over-reverent, dusty and lifeless event that sets outreach back by years.

    • Gilbert Hall responded on 14 January 2015 at 10:51pm

      Your review has encouraged me. I'm not interested in "outreach". This is one of the greatest of operas; how could a performance be too reverent? I'm looking forward to seeing it on Friday! (I hope I don't agree about "dusty and lifeless".)

  3. lizbie responded on 15 January 2015 at 9:12am Reply

    Your opinion, Russell, but not shared by anyone I know of. In fact, the opposite was true if one is to judge from the opinions of the younger audience members to whom I spoke. They loved it & some wanted to see more - given the 'outreach' scheme by which under-25s can 'get in' for rock-bottom prices, they probably will. Over-reverent? Anything but.

  4. francois responded on 15 January 2015 at 1:20pm Reply

    The last part of this performance is breathtaking and really beautiful. Bravo to the director and to Gyula Orendt for this amazing performance 6 meters over the ground. It was not circus, it was full of poetry, lyrism and emotion. Globally it was a good performance, though the 1rst Part could be less evenly sad (it is a wedding isn't it ?)

  5. Kevin Grainger responded on 18 January 2015 at 2:14pm Reply

    Saw it last night and loved it. After seeing several lamentable productions recently in the 'main house' it was refreshing to see a simple but really effective and committed one at the Roundhouse. Superb performances all-round, particularly from Orendt. I hope you use the Roundhouse again - it would work really well for Mozart - what a great Idomeneo you could have done there instead of the execrable one on Bow Street.

  6. Charlie Beckett responded on 19 January 2015 at 3:18pm Reply

    It was wonderful to be able to walk to a Royal Opera production. The setting was challenging but enhanced the effect overall. It was wonderful to have the chance to see this quality of music in different settings from Covent Garden. More please.

  7. Nik responded on 19 January 2015 at 3:22pm Reply

    I wasn't too convinced by the staging in the first half - it suffered from excessive movement by the dance troupe, who seemed very focused on their acrobatics and oddly detached from the rest of the performance. The second half was pure magic - just lovely! Musically the whole thing really couldn't have been bettered.
    As for the Roundhouse, it's a great space, but they need to get their organisation sorted. Why couldn't the tickets be posted as originally planned? The queue at the collection desk was a total shambles, and it took ages to be served.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 19 January 2015 at 3:26pm

      Apologies for the issues around ticket collection, Nik. We'll pass the feedback on to the Box Office.


      ROH Content Producer

  8. Jenny Helfrecht responded on 19 January 2015 at 3:30pm Reply

    I thought the Orfeo worked surprisingly well in the venue, which is not an obvious stage for opera. Felt really drawn into the action. Lighting was beautiful. Lovely singing and acting and the orchestral ensemble superb. Personally I did not care for bodies jumping and rolling around on the stage particularly, especially when they made thumping noises, but they did their stuff well.

  9. Terry Harris responded on 19 January 2015 at 3:36pm Reply

    I cannot fault the singing but the production was not great. Partly the fault of the Roundhouse: from where I was sitting (back row beside the steep ramp) one of the support columns blocked out centre stage where a lot of the action took place. Worse and definitely the director's fault the bright light from hell (at least 10 minutes of it) was so bright it blinded us. I have just had shoulder surgery and cannot/must not raise my right hand above shoulder height. I tried to block the light with one hand, but that was not enough! I lost 10 minutes of the opera. Lord knows how that got past the local council H&S.
    Why do directors not consider how all aspects of the production appear to the audience?

  10. Sarah C responded on 19 January 2015 at 3:47pm Reply

    A wonderful experience. Marvellous performances and beautiful playing from the Early Opera Company. Christopher Lowrey was a special treat. The space at the Roundhouse was used to full effect.

  11. Mary Foster responded on 19 January 2015 at 4:02pm Reply

    Great performance, but I am not sure about the Roundhouse as a venue. Booking late I had the joy of collecting my ticket from a ticket office drowning in people with Time Out offers and others vainly trying to retrieve evidence of bookings. System didn't quite seem up to it. Vast crowds all converging on a single staircase made it all a bit of a jumble. They manage Ok for pop concerts so I hope my experience wasn't universally shared.

  12. Shirin responded on 19 January 2015 at 4:27pm Reply

    Roundhouse was a terrible venue for this performance. Could hardly hear the music (even though I was sitting right next to the orchestra!) and the movements were quite limited and unimaginative on the stage, up and down the raised surface!
    Not too sure about the dancing in the first half either! It was more like a musical than a Royal Opera House production!
    Second half was much better ... Wish it was not performed at Roundhouse!

  13. Catherine Moon responded on 19 January 2015 at 4:43pm Reply

    The singing was superb, especially Gyula Orendt and the orchestra too. I liked some of the staging especially the final moments, but I was less keen on the overalled bodies, with the exception of the river Styx. The portrayal of Apollo and the shepherds as priests seemed confused and there was insufficient contrast between the tragedy and the joy of the story. The opening should have had some joy as a foil to the tragic entry of the messenger.

  14. Andrew J responded on 19 January 2015 at 5:11pm Reply

    Lovely music, lovely singing. (Too many streamers, too many parades up and down the walkway and too many thumps as dancers landed on the stage.) I had a great night.

  15. Richard Perkins responded on 19 January 2015 at 5:27pm Reply

    I loved it, and I felt that the absence of a proscenium brought the audience closer.
    Christopher Moulds, who was not the first choice to conduct, was totally in command and delivered a truly authentic period performance.

  16. Judith De Witt responded on 19 January 2015 at 6:59pm Reply

    Once inside, I liked hearing Orfeo at the Roundhouse, but the queues for the ladies and refreshments were dreadful. I wasn't surprised that the audience looked indistinguishable from a Covent Garden audience.
    The only time the dancers worked for me was as the River Styx.
    I had quite a number of issues with the production, but it is still definitely worth hearing this Orfeo.

  17. Mark Bertinat responded on 19 January 2015 at 8:45pm Reply

    Enjoyable but not emotionally involving. Lovely singing, though not always in the Monteverdi idiom. Lovely playing. Rolling waves of dancers great. Venue spectacular. Staging imaginative but overall lack of excitement a bit disappointing.

  18. Anne Rowley responded on 20 January 2015 at 10:45am Reply

    Musically well worth the while and a bargain at the £10 we paid. But why why why sing this in English? And by someone whose English pronunciation was less than 100%? What should have been a heartbreaking moment was made comical by Orfeo begging Euridyce to "come beck". As for the production, I kept wondering whether the director actually knew that "pastores" are shepherds in Italian, not priests. Galumphing dancers and thumping in the foyer were unnecessary distractions. I'm all for outreach: but can we please treat outreachees as intelligent adults?

  19. Norman Reuter responded on 21 January 2015 at 2:11pm Reply

    A very moving and enjoyable experience, and
    hopefully there will be more operas (and also
    ballets) performed at The Roundhouse. It has
    the great advantage of the audience being
    closer to the stage and performers than in
    the opera house; and as in Orfeo, a large
    circular stage, with several points of entrance
    and exit, particularly the long ramp, leading up to the upper level. All performers to be congratulated, and the
    inspired use of the East End youngsters
    as nymphs and shepherds. I look forward
    to your next Roundhouse performances.

  20. Charles Wong responded on 22 January 2015 at 5:26am Reply

    Good production overall, NOT at all helped by the racket the circus tumblers were making on the wooden stage, especially in the first act - sounded like a stampede of wildebeest, which distracted from the singing. I particularly noted Orendt's clear and quite English enunciation, and was impressed by his gameness in dangling, unharnessed, two storeys above ground in a graphic depiction of yearning.

  21. John Rose responded on 22 January 2015 at 11:17am Reply

    I attended the performance on 21 January. I don't know what Monteverdi or Striggio would have made of it. The purists wouldn't have liked it: it was a far from literal interpretation. Yet,my misgivings were soon forgotten for this turned out to be a dramatically and musically very convincing evening indeed: a rare occasion when everything fused together beautifully. One or two miscalculations aside (e.g. the noisy writhings on stage at the end of Act 2 which destroyed the beautiful choral writing), the audience was totally gripped by the drama.
    It seems invidious to single out names in what is such a fine piece of ensemble work, but I must mention the central figure of Orfeo,Gyula Orendt,not a name familiar except to the eagle-eyed. But here is a wonderful singer/actor, aged only 30 and a name to watch out for in the future.Charismatic on stage,his singing was wonderfully musical and his Act 3 "Possente spirto" was both virtuosic,yet quietly spell-binding.
    Congratulations,too,to Kaspar Holten for having the courage and imagination to forge this link with the Roundhouse.He's had many a brick-bat hurled in his direction recently; and not without cause. (Do we really want these European producers turning up and giving us such poor value recently: Idomeneo,Ballo, to name but two?)
    But the mother house down in Bow Street could learn a lot by using directors like Michael Boyd who seem able to infuse life and substance into this engagingly capricious but wonderful form of lyric theatre!

  22. Simon Pascal responded on 24 January 2015 at 6:31pm Reply

    The Roundhouse was a great venue for getting close to the action without paying a fortune; a nice change for those of us normally stuck up in the Amphitheatre. Would have preferred it in Italian, but the translation was OK. Music and singing were lovely, particularly James Platt as Charon. Staging worked well in the venue, and I liked the human gateway and river. The view and sound from my 'partially restricted view' seat were excellent considering the ticket price. I hope there are more ROH productions at this venue.

  23. adrian cosker responded on 24 January 2015 at 7:17pm Reply

    Enjoyed the production, the venue,the singing, the orchestra - everything - EXCEPT: the second half was too monotonous in tempo for me. In the first half there were choruses, cheerful dances etc to add variety, but I felt the second half, after Euridice's sad and untimely end, was far too consistently mournful. The opera provides moments of hope (to be dashed of course), or anger, that could have offered opportunities to liven things up a bit musically and give the audience more contrast and variety: I felt these opportunities were not use to the full - if at all!! Was this perhaps another case of an 'idee fixe' on the director's part, which is fine intellectually, but doesn't work if dragged out for too long! Anyway, apart from that, a great evening!! Everything else worked for me superbly. Many thanks to all involved!!

  24. Anne Hudson responded on 25 January 2015 at 10:06am Reply

    Absolutely superb. Spellbinding.

    The use of the young dancers was inspired, they morphed into gateways, rivers, and provided nymphs and shepherds galore. I particularly enjoyed the young lady who writhed her way to the rear of the stage, stomping her feet on the ground at the same point in her repeated movements, and which added drama to an especially dramatic few minutes, she sounded like a drum beat of doom as a backdrop to the singing.

    I really hope that opera can be staged like this again, I was totally pulled into the story by the intimacy of staging in the round, the simplicity of the set which let the singers and dancers become the scenes, the charisma of the singers, the ending couldn't have been more dramatic (and brave!), and it seemed like a very short two hours.

    I didn't even notice the pillar which was supposed to have been giving me a restricted view.

  25. Megan Quatermass responded on 5 February 2015 at 7:31am Reply

    I was disappointed in this production. the music and singing was fine, but the production didn't seem to gel for me. In a way I wished it had been a concert version with no other distractions, or a fully staged version in another venue with more set and lighting.

Comment on this article

Your email will not be published

Website URL is optional