The myth of Orpheus, a poet and singer from Thrace, whose voice was so beautiful that it could even conquer death, is one of the most popular themes in the operatic repertoire. L’ Orfeo, Monteverdi's first opera (whose score has been handed down to us) tells of his descent into the kingdom of the dead. The mythological poet is thus to be found at the very beginnings of the history of opera. Some 250 years later, Gluck returned to this legend during the great reform that marks the transition from the baroque to the classical genre. The German composer tried to free Italian opera from its formalist straitjacket and open it up to the dramatic intensity of the plot. Today, Orphée et Eurydice is one of his most performed operas. The version proposed by the Opéra Comique is the French version reworked by Berlioz in 1859 for the singer Pauline Viardot.
In this new production, directed by Aurélien Bory, Orpheus discovers a number of different imaginary spaces between the psyche, the supernatural and the beyond. The 33-year-old conductor Raphaël Pichon leads the Ensemble Pygmalion, the baroque music orchestra he founded in 2006 and which has since won multiple awards. Written originally by Gluck for a castrato, the role of Orpheus is now most often entrusted to a tenor, a countertenor or an alto. At the Opéra Comique, the mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa will play the mythological poet, while Helene Guilmette will sing the role of Orpheus’ wife, Eurydice.