"Descent to the underworld takes you to heaven..." Stunning reviews for Laurence Cummings at Garsington Opera

6 June 2022

Leading the English Concert from the harpsichord, Laurence Cummings has received rave reviews for Garsington Opera's production of Orfeo. The production has received 5 stars from publications such as The Times and The Guardian, and Cummings, the 'master of musical ceremonies' conducts Garsington's first foray into Monteverdi with aplomb.

Cummings opts for a beguilingly lush wash of continuo from five different musicians, and splits his instrumental forces effectively on either side of the stage, but his main achievement is ensuring his singers constantly invest their lines with emotional significance as well as stylish ornamentation. It’s all bewitching [...]

Richard Morrison, The Times, 5*

The true vocal pillars of this piece are, inescapably, the tenor Ed Lyon in the title role, and the ever active chorus, with its multiple brief solos, including at one point from the conductor Laurence Cummings. [...] Cummings, directing from the harpsichord, and his English Concert musicians, played on stage throughout, sporting similar white and cream clothes to the dancers, and joining the staging at times.

Martin Kettle, The Guardian, 5*
[The staging] allows for the musical freedom Cummings draws without actually conducting [...] With Cummings stepping away from the harpsichord to sing Apollo’s intervention and joining the Monteverdi madrigal sung as an encore, this is an evening of true ensemble work.

John Allison, The Telegraph, 4*
The dynamic and barefoot English Concert is on stage, its players in the heart of the action. Laurence Cummings directing this pulsating score from the keyboard even sings as Orfeo's father in the closing moments.

Claudia Pritchard, Culture Whisper, 5*

Photo credit: Julian Guidera

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