‘Orfeus,’ billed as the world’s first house music opera, took to the stage Saturday at Pomona College’s Bridges Auditorium in Claremont.
The play is based on the ancient Roman myth of Orpheus and Euridice, who were portrayed in Ovid’s poem “Metamorphoses.”
The show incorporated modern music, video editing and other technology into an opera performance of “Orfeus” by Grammy-winning opera baritone Nmon Ford.
The theater was filled with students, faculty, and other opera enthusiasts.
“I’ve always liked the story of … ‘Metamorphoses.’ What I haven’t always liked is the ending because I thought it was too sad,” Ford said.
Ford not only directed “Orfeus,” he also produced, starred in the show as Orfeus and voiced Pluto as well.
Ford decided to develop a new ending for his adaptation of “Orpheus.”
He also wanted to create a version that leaves an opening for a sequel.
“The only way I could think of that made sense to continue the story was that she (Euridice) actually was able to come back to life,” Ford said.
In addition to the plot twist, Ford combined elements of house music into his adaptation of “Orpheus.”
The stage was propped simply with a large projector screen and two small blocks of ladders on both sides, but the emotions conveyed through the performance were beyond ordinary-no decoration necessary.
Different types of music played in the background and often times edited video clips flashed across the screen.
Kelly Simmons, an executive assistant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, came from Los Angeles to watch her friend Ford’s adaptation of “Orpheus.”
“I think it was fabulous. It was really creative, I liked how he incorporated the video with the actual live singing,” Simmons said. “It made it more interesting that sometimes he was singing live, and then sometimes it was recorded, and then sometimes it was through the video.”
Ford’s co-star, Shana Blake Hill, opera soprano who starred as Euridice, said that the production of the show spanned over a few years.
“He would finish a piece and then he would call me up, and we would go in the studio and figure it out,” Hill said. So it’s kind of been evolving over time. It’s sort of like shooting a film.”
Pomona College sophomore Alexandra D’Costa and freshman Alida Schefers said that they had seen “Orfeus” posters around campus and became interested in watching the show.
D’Costa said that she thought “Orfeus” was groundbreaking and liked Ford’s adaptation because the music gave her a different feel of the story.
“First of all there is the actors’ great singing, and then I feel like the performance we saw was, almost more provocative than the myth because I had a real reaction to the music,” Schefers said.
Jesica Kimberlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.