Ricky Ian Gordon's Orpheus & Euridice, Presented in 140,000-Gallon Pool, Begins Performances Nov. 1

News   Ricky Ian Gordon's Orpheus & Euridice, Presented in 140,000-Gallon Pool, Begins Performances Nov. 1
Chicago Opera Theater's production of  Ricky Ian Gordon's Orpheus & Euridice, a modern retelling of the famous Greek myth, begins performances Nov. 1 in the 140,000-gallon Ida Crown Natatorium pool in Eckhart Park.

Ricky Ian Gordon
Ricky Ian Gordon Photo by Kevin Doyle

The limited run, which continues through Nov. 10, is presented in partnership with the Chicago Park District as part of the Classics in the Parks Series. 

Directed by COT general director Andreas Mitisek, Orpheus & Euridice features clarinetist Todd Palmer as Orpheus and former COT young artist Valerie Vinzant as Euridice. Stephen Hargreaves conducts.

"This is the first exploration of many to come. We had a tremendous year of growth, with a 20% subscriber increase and our fiscal year in the black. We are poised to venture into our community and claim new, unusual places for opera. Get ready!" Mitisek said in a statement.

Gordon's operatic song cycle Orpheus & Euridice began in 1995 when Todd Palmer asked Gordon to write a composition for clarinet, piano and voice. Inspired by Marcel Camus' 1959 film "Black Orpheus," Gordon penned a personal take on the Orpheus myth, written as his partner was losing his battle to AIDS.

"I wanted to write my version of that movie. Act I was the birth of love. Act II was the stealing away of that gift…I see Todd as Orpheus playing his 'Pipe' instead of a lute or a lyre, and Euridice as both herself and the storyteller," Gordon said in a statement. "Orpheus, the son of Apollo and the muse Calliope, was a musician and poet whose lyrical melodies could tame wild animals, cause trees and rocks to dance, and divert rivers from their courses," press notes state. "When his young wife Eurydice died, Orpheus journeyed to the Underworld to rescue her. He charmed the Ruler of the Underworld with his music and was allowed to return with her to Earth as long as he didn't look back along the way. As he neared Earth, he was anxious to reassure himself Eurydice was still behind him. As he turned, she vanished back into the Underworld. His pleas to the Ferryman on the River Styx to return him back to the Underworld went unheeded and he mourned the loss of Eurydice a second time. The Thracian women, angry that following his return Orpheus paid them no attention; threw their spears at him; tore him in pieces; and tossed his head and lyre into the Hebrus river. Jupiter threw his lute into the stars while the Shade of Orpheus entered the Underworld where he was finally reunited with Eurydice."

Performances are held at the Eckhart Park Pool, located at 1330 W. Chicago Avenue,  Nov. 1,  Nov. 3,  Nov. 8 and Nov. 10.

Tickets are free to the public in partnership with the Chicago Park District. They can be reserved in advance by calling (312) 704-8414 or by visiting chicagooperatheater.org.

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