Orpheus and Euridice comes to Chapel Hill

In creative commons, culture by Michael Tiemann

“Welcome to Chapel Hill,” I said to Ricky Ian Gordon after the 8pm performance of Orpheus and Euridice at UNC’s Memorial Hall, “the best town you’ll find this side of the Underworld”. And what a wonderful performance it was.

At noon I had never heard of either the work nor the composer, but thanks to WUNC, Frank Stashio, and the friday episode of The State of Things, my ingorance was incrementally diminished.

Ricky Ian Gordon is not only a modern composer (the New York Times reviews him as blending Gershwin and Berstein, but I heard lots of John McGlaughlin’s wholetone diminished scales) but a poet as well. In fact it was his reading of the libretto that convinced me I needed to buy tickets and see the show that evening.

Wow!  Bravo to the Long Leaf Opera company for their daring and compelling performance!!

I was also delighted to hear him talk on the radio about the power of mythology, particularly the power that comes from mythology being a shared cultural currency. Indeed, what power would music or opera hold if every story were forced to be something unfamiliar, rather than allowing it to be something both true and Archetypical?

So thank you Ricky, for your courage, tenderness, suffering, and most of all, your generosity in sharing your love and grief with us.  And thank you for venturing from your New York haunts to visit us down here in Chapel Hill.

For those of you who missed the show, at least listen to the WUNC interview–it, too, is great art.