by Byron Woods
You heard about the Doug Varone performance -- this weekend, in Chapel Hill -- right? [Editor's note: This performance closed Sunday, June 29. Varone's company performs at the ADF next Monday-Wednesday, July 7-9, In Reynolds Theater. ]
The Long Leaf Opera Festival is restaging his production of the 2005 Ricky Ian Gordon opera Orpheus and Euridice, with the original leads -- soprano Elizabeth Futral as Euridice, clarinetist Todd Palmer as Orpheus, and Varone's dancers -- as the final offering in their 2008 festival. The one remaining performance: Sunday, June 29, at 2 pm, in UNC's Memorial Hall.
No, the dance snobs weren't terribly impressed with the 2005 Lincoln Center premiere. (Perhaps they missed the news that Gordon's AIDS-era libretto was inspired by the film Black Orpheus, and not earlier operatic masterpieces by Gluck or Monteverdi.) But others clearly were.
The Long Leafs have a long history in the region. They've consistently had the most adventurous programming of the handful of regional opera groups.
The down side? Their community-level orchestras and vocalists and fluctuating direction and sets and costumes haven't always matched their stated ambition to stage professional-grade productions of English-based opera.
But since Varone is directing his original performers -- and the work is for three solo musicians, without orchestra -- most of the usual variables seem to have been taken out of the mix here. The one remaining question mark: the pianist in this three-musician ensemble -- the one role not identified anywhere in the extensive publicity on the festival's website.
Ticket information, here.