Orpheus Uncovered

Opera and Musical Theater Workshop & Baroque Opera from Monteverdi to Gluck
Mar 29, 2023 at - | Penn Museum - Widener Auditorium 3260 South Street Philadelphia PA


Orpheus Uncovered

March 29, 2023 (Wednesday) – 7:30 to 8:30 PM

Widener Auditorium
Penn Museum,
3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Orpheus Uncovered presents the story of Orpheus and Eurydice as narrated in music by composers who wrote operas based on this myth: Claudio Monteverdi, Luigi Rossi, Antonio Sartorio, and Christoph Willibald Gluck (with, respectively, librettists Alessandro Striggio Jr., Francesco Buti, Aurelio Aureli, and Ranieri de' Calzabigi). This Baroque pasticcio is fully staged and sung in Italian. The production illustrates the Music Department's mission of integrating academic study and artistic practice, providing Penn students with a unique opportunity to combine scholarship and performance for a deeper understanding of and immersion in the art form that is opera.

Support for Orpheus Uncovered is provided by The Sachs Program for Arts Innovation through an Arts Course Development Grant awarded to Mauro Calcagno (2019). For this production, the Music Department collaborates with the Italian Studies unit of the Department of Francophone, Italian, and Germanic Studies. 

This event is free and open to the public.



Opera and Musical Theater Workshop (MUSC 0070, Meg Bragle Gruits)

The Penn Opera and Musical Theater Workshop presents performances of opera, operetta and musical theatre, providing singers and actors with the opportunity to perform exciting repertoire while developing singing, acting and stage movement skills. Each fall the ensemble presents an evening of scenes from stage works including opera, operetta, and American musical theater repertoire and is open to students of all abilities. The spring semester presents an opportunity to delve deeper into specific repertoire by presenting a fully staged production accompanied by an instrumental ensemble and taught in conjunction with a music department course.

Baroque Opera from Monteverdi to Gluck (MUSC/ITAL 3300, Mauro Calcagno)

The course explores the history of Baroque opera from the vantage point of its beginning and its end: Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo (1607) and Christoph Willibald Gluck‘s Orfeo ed Euridice (1762), both works setting into music narratives about the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice as told by Ovid, Virgil, and others. We will discuss not only the historical documents that survive about these two masterworks (scores, librettos, letters etc.) but also today’s productions available in video, some of them involving dance. Why was the myth of Orpheus central to creators and audiences? What do these two operas and their performances tell us about being human in the world, both back then and today? How do we approach and understand this 400-years old genre, and why do these operas still attract worldwide audiences today?