BWW Blog: Mezzo Soprano Laura Coale on ORFEO ED EURIDICE

By Guest Blogger, Laura Coale
March 30, 2016

I started singing with Opera in the Heights (Oh!) in 2011, shortly after graduating from the University of Houston with my Master's in vocal performance. Over the past five years I have appeared in nine productions, singing in the chorus as well as supporting roles. How thrilling that in my 10th Oh! production I will be singing the title role of Orfeo in Christoph Willibald Gluck's ORFEO ED EURIDICE.

This is a beautiful story and a fantastic score. You can feel Orfeo's determination and passion, or more appropriately, obsession, for finding Euridice within the text and music. This piece is very important in the context of opera history as it begins the transition from the late Baroque to early Classical period. Gluck was adamant that the music more directly reflect the text and that superfluous ornamentation be eliminated. This opera provides some of the most beautiful music of the period that may at first appear to be just a simple tune, but underneath displays a wide range of emotion.

I've had a great deal of fun getting to know Orfeo. What does he want in each moment? What does he go through to achieve his goals? Sometimes these were not easy questions to answer because quite often the libretto might be talking about his sorrow at losing Euridice, while the music would be a lovely tune in a major key.

After reading a translation of the myth and discussing the character with my coach, Katherine Ciscon, the director, Leslie Swackhamer, and the conductor, Eiki Isomura, I decided that Orfeo uses his superpower of music to get what he wants. He can charm the rocks and trees with his singing; therefore, he should be able to persuade the gods to return his wife.

The rehearsal process has been, and continues to be, an absolute joy! Opera in the Heights has become my artistic home, and I am so thankful for the support and encouragement the members of the staff and artistic team have given me. This production is a true collaboration among all parties. During one rehearsal, Maestro Isomura said he "wanted to tell the best story possible." I truly believe that we are telling a story that not only serves the work, but is also deeply moving.

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