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Hello nice people,

I noticed that recordings of Orfeo differ a lot. In tempo/phrasing etc.
What performance does (in your opinion) convey the emotion of the work (which i deeply like) the best?
With Emanuelle Haim perhaps? I'm very interested in what you think.

Thanks :)
 

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Gardiner would be my pick as well...
 

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Emmanuelle Haïm is doing some awesome stuff. I discovered her L'Orfeo a while back and snapped it up. I think Gardiner is still the yardstick (or your preferred metric equivalent) for me, but Haïm provides a very refreshing alternative. I also have her Handel: Resurezzione and Bach: Magnificat/Handel: Dixit Dominus.
 

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So how many endings are there to Monteverdi's L'orfeo?

I just saw a live performance of L'orfeo and the ending was unusual, one that I had not been aware of, but apparently the original libretto ending. Wikipedia says,

In Striggio's 1607 libretto, Orfeo's act 5 soliloquy is interrupted, not by Apollo's appearance but by a chorus of maenads or Bacchantes-wild, drunken women-who sing of the "divine fury" of their master, the god Bacchus. The cause of their wrath is Orfeo and his renunciation of women; he will not escape their heavenly anger, and the longer he evades them the more severe his fate will be. Orfeo leaves the scene and his destiny is left uncertain, as the Bacchantes devote themselves for the rest of the opera to wild singing and dancing in praise of Bacchus.[37] The early music authority Claude Palisca believes that the two endings are not incompatible; Orfeo might evade the fury of the Bacchantes and be rescued by Apollo.[38] However, this alternative ending in any case nearer to original classic myth, where the Bacchantes also appear, but it is made explicit that they torture him to his death, followed by reunion as a shade with Euridice but no apotheosis nor any interaction with Apollo.[39]
My Haim L'orfeo CD set has the ending with Apollo's appearance.

I also have the Harnoncourt set and apparently that has an even different ending, in which Eurydice is restored to Orfeo. According to an Amazon reviewer,
There is a gentle pathos about the whole performance wholly in sympathy with the ambiguous mood of the opera and its avoidance of a wholly tragic conclusion whereby Euridice is not restored to Orfeo but he is transported by Apollo up to Parnassus.
Thought maybe the Amazon reviewer was off, but then the listing only shows 4 acts instead of 5, which would line up with Euridice being liberated instead of left in Hell.
 

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So how many endings are there to Monteverdi's L'orfeo?

I just saw a live performance of L'orfeo and the ending was unusual, one that I had not been aware of, but apparently the original libretto ending. Wikipedia says,

My Haim L'orfeo CD set has the ending with Apollo's appearance.

I also have the Harnoncourt set and apparently that has an even different ending, in which Eurydice is restored to Orfeo. According to an Amazon reviewer,

Thought maybe the Amazon reviewer was off, but then the listing only shows 4 acts instead of 5, which would line up with Euridice being liberated instead of left in Hell.
That's news to me, and very interesting. I wonder why the ending was changed? Probably by ducal decree or something annoyingly Baroque like that.

The Harnoncourt was the first L'Orfeo I ever heard, way back around 1969 (jeez, I'm old). I remember thinking that Lajos Kozma had a beautiful voice.
 

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I have Jurgens, Gardiner, Garrido, Haim, Jacobs and Savall and all have 5 acts and the 'Apollo' conclusion. The work was first performed in 1607 and published in 1609. Between those two dates it seems Monteverdi revised the ending. The Synopsis for the Savall recording says -

'Here the endings given in the libretto and the score diverge. In the libretto for the first performances, Orpheus withdraws from the scene and a chorus of enraged Bacchantes enter, and though they do not tear Orpheus limb from limb, as in the original myth. at least threaten him with this fate as they dance and sing in praise of Bacchus.

The score transmits a different ending. Apollo descends in a cloud and invites to enjoy immortal life..........a group of nymphs and shepherds sing the final chorus....The opera ends as the chorus dance a moresca, representing a stylised fight that may have formed part of the Bacchanalian ending to the opera.'
 

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'Here the endings given in the libretto and the score diverge. In the libretto for the first performances, Orpheus withdraws from the scene and a chorus of enraged Bacchantes enter, and though they do not tear Orpheus limb from limb, as in the original myth. at least threaten him with this fate as they dance and sing in praise of Bacchus.'
I am afraid Apollo's Fire has him torn limb from limb. From the program notes:
[Orfeo] rejects all womankind, since none are as perfect as Euridice. (From this point on, Monteverdi's music is lost but the original 1607 libretto continues as follows.) Orfeo is overheard by a band of wild Bacchant women, worshippers of Bacchus. He hides himself. The women, enraged by his rejection of all womankind, burst on stage in pursuit. While hunting Orfeo, they sing praises to Bacchus and celebrate his gift of wine. At the end of their song, Orfeo is discovered. A stylized battle dance ensues, in which Orfeo meets his demise.
It goes on to explain,
What survives, aside from the printed libretto, is a slightly later version of the score, published in 1609. The 1609 score does not contain the Bacchanale ending as seen in the 1607 libretto. Instead, it includes a different, happy ending, set to poetry that may be by a different librettist. (The Monteverdi scholar Iain Fenlon suggests that this portion of the libretto is not sufficiently accomplished to be the work of Striggio, but rather an amateur poet.) In the 1609 published version, Orpheus rejects all womankind, but then is gently rebuked by Apollo, and taken up to Heaven by him in a golden chariot. The "happiness" of this ending is a bit weakened by the fact that Euridice is still languishing in Hades.
I will stick with the Apollo taking Orfeo to Heaven ending. The Bacchanale ending was a bit too wild for me.
 

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The two booklet writers seem to have read the same text and come to a different conclusion. I found the original text but only in Italian and was unable to translate it or make any sense of the relevant passage.

http://www.librettidopera.it/zpdf/orfeo.pdf

The Bacchanal is quite a lengthy scene.

This paper - https://sscm-jscm.org/v9/no1/hanning.html#ch2 - says

'Act V finds him alone with his echo, bitter and disconsolate, vowing to shun the company of women, whereupon the chorus of orgiastic female Baccanti appears, presumably to mete out their punishment, although the libretto delicately leaves their violent action to be inferred by the audience'

I don't have Harnoncourt in this work but presumably he gives some justification for his ending.
 

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Here is an interesting article that may shed some light:
The Ending of L'Orfeo: Father, Son, and Rinuccini
From the Journal of Seventeenth-Century Music

Here is the abstract:
Monteverdi's opera Orfeo has two endings-one that appears only in Striggio's 1607 libretto (adhering to the original myth) and another (with a different text in which Apollo descends as deus ex machina) only in Monteverdi's 1609 score. After examining the stylistic and circumstantial evidence, this paper proposes Ottavio Rinuccini as the author of the altered fifth act, suggesting that Monteverdi turned to him after their successful collaboration on L'Arianna in 1608. It also concludes that the happy ending is not the original one, as some have thought, but constitutes a later revision of the opera.
 

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Another journal sheds even more light. This one costs money for more than the first page.

Looking Backwards: Baroque Opera and the Ending of the Orpheus Myth
from the International Journal of the Classical Tradition

Abstract:
Vergil and Ovid, the Latin authors most widely read during the Baroque Age, presented the legend of Orpheus as ending tragically: the singer lost Eurydice forever and then endured a horrible death at the hands of the Maenads. While this version of the story was widely known throughout the Baroque Age, most operas of that period contained an altered version of the legend with a happy ending (lieto fine). Orpheus was presented as exalted into the heavens, reunited with Eurydice on earth, or at least consoled for his sufferings by the god Apollo. An examination of Poliziano's Orfeo (1480), Jacopo Peri's Euridice (1600), Claudio Monteverdi's La favola di Orfeo (1607), Luigi Rossi's Orfeo (1647), and Christoph Willibald Gluck's Orfeo ed Euridice (1762) suggests that many different reasons-artistic, musical, social, and sometimes even personal-explain why Baroque composers so frequently changed the ending of this myth. Surveying those reasons is important because it helps to clarify the relationship between Baroque opera and Italian pastoral poetry. Additionally, such an analysis provides insight into the Baroque approach to the classical tradition as a whole.
 

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If you haven't already, check out Scherzi Musicali's performances of L'Orfeo. I don't know how the performance you attended handled the echo, but it is exquisite in the following:


The following were recorded for a documentary:


 
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