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Yale Baroque Opera Will Present Monteverdi’s “Orfeo”


New Haven, Conn. — The Yale Baroque Opera Project (YBOP) will present two performances of the opera “Orfeo,” by Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643), on April 18, at 5:15 p.m., and on April 19 at 2 p.m.

Free and open to the public, the performances will take place in Trinity Lutheran Church, on the corner of Wall and Orange streets.

Reservations and tickets are not required; doors will open 30 minutes before each performance. The opera will run approximately two hours.

Monteverdi’s masterpiece, “Orfeo” is considered by many to be the first important opera ever composed. Monteverdi wrote the opera in 1607, six years after two other operatic treatments of the same myth by Giulio Caccini (c.1550–1610) and Jacopo Peri (1561–1633).

The story concerns the mythological demigod Orfeo, who attempts to reclaim his bride Eurydice from the underworld through the magical power of his musical and poetic skills. Unable to resist taking a prohibited glance at her as he leads her back to the world of the living, he loses her forever.

Twenty-five costumed singers will join the Yale Collegium Players, an orchestra featuring strings, harp, organ, harpsichord and lute as well as such early instruments as the theorbo, cornetti and sackbuts. The singers are enrolled in a course taught by Yale Professor Richard Lalli, while the musicians include professional early music players, as well as students enrolled in courses taught by Yale faculty members Robert Mealy and Ilya Poletaev. A recent Yale College graduate, Ethan Heard, is director of the production.

This performance of Monteverdi’s “Orfeo” is a centerpiece of the conference “Looking Back/Looking Forward,” being presented in conjunction with the World Performance Project and the Whitney Humanities Center. Other conference events include lectures and the performance of “Project O,” a re-telling of the Orfeo myth using American musical and dance traditions of the 1950s and 1960s and directed by Yale Professor Joseph Roach.

For more conference information, visit

Another major work by Monteverdi, contemporary with Orfeo, the “Vespers of the Virgin Mary” (1610), will be presented in Woolsey Hall, corner of College and Grove streets on April 27, at 8 p.m., by Yale Schola Cantorum under the direction of Simon Carrington and featuring the Yale Collegium Players, directed by Robert Mealy.

This performance is also free and open to the public; more information online.

This is the second major production of YBOP. The first, a choreographed performance of Monteverdi’s madrigals, was presented in Sprague Hall in November 2007 to critical acclaim.

The Yale Baroque Opera Project is funded by a Distinguished Achievement Award granted by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Ellen Rosand, the George A. Saden Professor of Music in the Department of Music at Yale. Rosand’s “Opera in Seventeenth-Century Venice: The Creation of a Genre” has been recently released in paperback and her “Monteverdi’s Last Operas” was published in late 2007. During each semester of this and the coming two years, YBOP will present Yale undergraduates in performances of 17th-century Italian opera. For more information, visit


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