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NYC Opera’s Orpheus opens May 12

Widely renowned for resurrecting Handel’s operas in North America, New York City Opera continues its exploration of the Baroque by presenting the New York premiere of Georg Philipp Telemann’s 1726 opera Orpheus from May 12-20 at the intimate Teatro del Museo del Barrio in East Harlem. Rediscovered only in the late 20th century, the score showcases Telemann’s progressive spirit and vivid imagination. The tri-lingual libretto, featuring texts drawn from operas by Handel and Lully, turns the traditional Orpheus myth on its head, focusing on the character Orasia, Queen of Thrace, whose jealousy brings about the destruction of Orpheus and Eurydice. NYC Opera favorite Joélle Harvey and debut artist Daniel Teadt portray the ill-fated lovers, who become the obsession of the vengeful queen, sung by Jennifer Rowley in her company debut. Also making her NYC Opera debut is Catherine Miller, who will be dancing a role specially created for this production: Thanatos, the ancient Greek personification of death. Inventive director Rebecca Taichman, known for her intelligent renderings of Shakespeare’s plays, makes her NYC Opera debut with this new production as well. Gary Thor Wedow, for many years NYC Opera’s lauded chorus master and a much-acclaimed Baroque specialist, will conduct. 
Allan Jalon, in his recent Huffington Post piece about Orpheus, quotes Temple University professor Steven Zohn, who says: “That Orpheus is finally being done in New York, by a company with the stature of the New York City Opera, is an important step in Telemann’s revival.” (The full article can be read here.) George Steel, General Manager and Artistic Director of NYC Opera, has said Telemann’s Orpheus may well be “his masterpiece. Telemann ran the people’s opera at the Theatre of the Bergers, also called the Gänsemarkt (‘Goosemarket’) in Hamburg. Telemann was writing for a big, popular audience, so the opera is much more approachable and less formal and austere than Handel can be. There’s a lot more textual variety – there are duets, quartets, songs, not just da capo after da capo [aria]. It’s just a more fun kind of show.” Reflecting Steel’s emphasis on having NYC Opera’s productions matched to the most appropriate venues, Orpheus will be presented in El Teatro, an intimate (just under 600 seats) theater housed in El Museo del Barrio in East Harlem.
Orpheus cast 
Orasia: Jennifer Rowley* 
Orpheus: Daniel Teadt* 
Eurydice: Joélle Harvey 
Cephisa: Meredith Lustig 
Ismene: Michelle Areyzaga* 
Pluto: Nicholas Pallesen 
Eurimedes: Victor Ryan Robertson* 
Ascalax: Daryl Freedman*
Thanatos: Catherine Miller*
Bass: David Salsbery Fry
New York City Opera Orchestra
Orpheus production team
Conductor: Gary Thor Wedow 
Director: Rebecca Taichman* 
Choreographer: Mark Dendy
Set and Costume Designer: David Zinn 
Lighting Designer: Donald Holder 
* debut artist 
Tickets for Orpheus and other productions in New York City Opera’s 2011-2012 season can be purchased by phone at (212) 870-5600 or online at
Orpheus performance dates
Saturday, May 12, 7:30pm
Tuesday, May 15, 7:30pm
Thursday, May 17, 7:30pm
Sunday, May 20, 1:30pm
El Museo del Barrio: 1230 Fifth Avenue, between 104th and 105th Streets
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes. Performed in German, French, and Italian with English supertitles.
Orpheus is made possible with the generous support of Michael and Mary Gellert and Joan Granlund. Additional support is provided by the Charles and Mildred Schnurmacher Foundation.
NYC Opera subscriptions and tickets
Subscriptions and single tickets for New York City Opera’s 2011-2012 season can be purchased by phone at (212) 870-5600 or online at
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© 21C Media Group, May 2012
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