I have a secret, and sadly underdeveloped love foera. I watch and listen to them quite a bit but most certainly not to the level I would like to. I hardly ever attend one--too expensive, not enough time--but I enjoy them a lot. This morning I found a beautiful and very good quality version of L'Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi. It is based on the Greek legend of Orpheus, and tells the story of his descent to Hades and his fruitless attempt to bring his dead bride Euridice back to the living world. It was written in 1607 for a court performance during the annual Carnival at Mantua. While the honour of the first ever opera goes to Jacopo Peri's Dafne, and the earliest surviving opera is Euridice (also by Peri), L'Orfeo has the honour of being the earliest surviving opera that is still regularly performed today.

In ancient Hellenic mythology, Orpheus (Ὀρφεύς) was a legendary musician, poet, and prophet who lost his wife and travelled to the Underworld to fetch her. He lost her again when he broke his deal with Hades. After being forced to leave Eurydice in the Underworld, he travels the world with his lyre. He renounces both women, and many of the Theoi, pained as he is by the loss of his beloved wife. This opera follows much of the same story, only here, when Orpheus loses his wife again, Appollon descends from the heavens and invites Orpheus up so he will no longer have to grieve his wife--he can see her in the stars forever.

A new collaboration between the Roundhouse and The Royal Opera, Orfeo follows on from L’Ormindo at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare's Globe, in spring 2014. Former artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company Michael Boyd directs in his operatic debut, with a production that features the Orchestra of the Early Opera Company conducted by Christopher Moulds, post-graduate students of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and participants of East London Dance. Enjoy!