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Orpheus Descending
Composer:Bruce Saylor
Librettist:J.D. McClatchy
In this nod to the Orpheus Legend, Val Xavier, a reformed hustler who plays the guitar, comes to a dusty southern town in a n attempt to start a new life. He is taken under the wing of the slightly mad Vee Talbott, wife of the sheriff, and he gets a job at the dry goods store, which is owned by the tragic and delicate Lady and Jabe Torrance, her gruff, crippled husband. Val and Lady fall in love, and he also attracts the unwanted attention of Carol Cutrere, sister of one of Lady's old flames. Val refuses to heed Vee's warnings to leave town when he learns that Lady is pregnant with his child. As Lady rejoices at her "victory" over her brutal husband, Jabe comes downstairs and shoots her. Val, trying to escape, is killed by the pusuing sheriff and his men.

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

OPERA America/Opera.ca Grants Awarded
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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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