La Venexiana

Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo opens with the hero’s wedding to his beloved Eurydice, so Italian ensemble La Venexiana took that as the inspiration for Claudio Cavina’s gorgeously stylish formal-wear production (see here for a slideshow, set to excerpts from the group’s award-winning recording). It’s not an updating, exactly, but a sort of translation of the impact the 402-year-old opera must have had at its birth at the court of Mantua—the last word in chic innovation, with a colorful orchestra, hugely lavish for the time, with all kinds of brass, percussion, and bowed and plucked strings. Even as Monteverdi was experimenting with this brand-new form, he was mastering it expressively and dramatically, as well as laying the groundwork for the future, including choruses, dances, powerfully affecting arias (Orfeo’s melting lament “Possente spirto” will destroy you, assuming you have a heart), and spectacle. Every opera written since has just been a variation on this recipe. The Early Music Guild is bringing La Venexiana, with a full 30-piece orchestra, for what seems to be the opera’s first professional staging in Seattle. GAVIN BORCHERT

Fri., Feb. 6, 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 7, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 8, 2 p.m., 2009

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