June 10, 1994 | Lyric Opera of Chicago
Orpheus Descending
Composer:Bruce Saylor
Librettist:J.D. McClatchy
The story is set in the general drygoods store of a small Southern town. Val, a reformed hustler searching for a new life, wanders into the dark, depressing world of Lady, the daughter of an Italian immigrant and wife of Jabe, the store owner. Lady longs to be saved from the memory of her father's fiery murder by local vigilantes, from an earlier affair and subsequent abortion, and from her empty marriage to the menacing, cancer-ridden Jabe. Val comes to work and lives in the store. He and Lady fall in love. Val's wild beauty stirs up other women in the town, including the seductive Carol, who tries to warn him of the mortal danger he courts, and the visionary Vee, wife of the local sheriff. From his deathbed, Jabe discovers Lady's infidelity. Lady herself learns by accident that Jabe had been part of the gang that killed her father and then learns that she is pregnant by Val. In the midst of her furious exaltation, Jabe descends and shoots her. The sheriff and his cronies capture Val and burn him to death. Carol dons Val's snakeskin jacket, a symbol of the continuing cycle of life

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Lyric Opera of ChicagoOrpheus Descending6/1/1994 - 6/11/1994

OPERA America/Opera.ca Grants Awarded
Click here to learn more about OPERA America granting programs.
Opera for a New America 1994
Opera for a New America 1993

Title Information

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Approximate Runtime (hh:mm)

Number of Acts

Musical Style
Tonal; lyrical; some very chromatic parts; dark, sometimes brooding music; use of leifmotifs

Vocal & Musical Forces
Four woodwinds, 6 brass, 9 strings, harp, 2 percussion; 12 characters (3 sopranos, 2 mezzos, contralto, tenor, 4 baritones, bass)

Original Cast
Original cast: Valentine Xavier, Victor Benedetti; Lady Torrance, Juliana Rambaldi; Jabe Torrance, Stephen Morscheck; Carol Cutrere, Terese Fedea; Vee Talbot, Emily Magee; Beulah, Natalie Arduino; Dolly, Kimberly Jones; Sheriff Talbott, Stephen Powell; David Cutrere, Gary Martin; Nurse, Gwendolyn Brown

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