Laurence Cummings' collaborative production of Orpheus at Opera North is 'The best of both worlds'

17 October 2022

Together with his co-musical director Jasdeep Singh Degun, Laurence Cummings opened a production of Monteverdi's Orfeo at Opera North. The concept is Monteverdi's opera as it has never been seen before, playing with the similar themes in the stories of Orfeo and the Mahabharata, linking the two musical styles through collaborative instrumentation and newly composed elaborations in the South Asian musical tradition.

The Times' Rebecca Franks called this 'musical partnership' a 'thing of joy', serving as a reminder that music 'also gives life to happiness'.

In The Telegraph, Nicholas Kenyon has said:
"This original, moving reworking of Orfeo is a cross-cultural event that for once does justice to both cultures involved. In their collaboration, Monteverdi specialist Laurence Cummings (who directed the original Orfeo at Garsington this summer) and South Asian music director Jasdeep Singh Degun (who has composed new non-western sections for the opera) have let their musical traditions react and feed off each other: free recitative makes a powerful link with the oriental influences that can arguably be glimpsed in Monteverdi’s idiom."

In an interview with the Financial Times, Laurence Cummings described the production as being about "the essence of Monteverdi, which is the power of music. That has been crystallised by the last couple of years, when the pandemic took away our essence. Putting these different styles of music side by side and finding how well they come together has been a beautiful process. There have been moments when time stands still, and I hope that will transfer to the audience.”

Orpheus runs until 19th November in a touring production.

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