The Underworld as corporate boardroom, Pluto a “suit,” the damned a bunch of clerks tapping away at laptops. When the lyre of Orpheus is heard (it never is seen, and it sounds like a recorder), rose petals turn up in hair or sleeves or pockets. The king of the dark realm is prepared to do almost anything to get rid of the intruder, even give him back his late bride (on conditions). The Maenads are a couple of riotous club ladies in bouffant ’dos and over-the-top pastel outfits, biting off a little piece of Mahler’s—sorry, Telemann’s.
Rebecca Taichman’s busy staging of Telemann’s 1726 opera Orpheus (or, Die wunderbare Beständigkeit der Liebe, The Wonderful Constancy of Love), for the New York City Opera, played in David Zinn’s spare sets and colorful costumes, tends to modern stage clichés but at least none of it gets in the way of, or unduly clutters, the familiar tale of the greatest musician of classical myth. Read more »