Opera Memphis Stages Three Versions of Orpheus

Posted by Holly Whitfield | January 19th 2010 1811 0

Opera Memphis is taking a break from performing at theaters around Memphis to bring things back home. Beginning this weekend, the company will be staging “Orpheus”, their first show at the Clark Opera Memphis Center in East Memphis.

Opera Memphis gives you wings!

Opera Memphis gives you wings!

The Clark Opera Memphis Center is home to the Opera Memphis offices, set, wig and costume shops, and a huge rehearsal space.

Three different versions of “Orpheus” will be staged in the giant rehearsal room – one features Orpheus played by a tenor, another with Orpheus played by a countertenor (a male who sings soprano) and a third featuring a mezzo soprano as Orpheus. Each version of the show will run twice.

A costume for one of the Furies in Orpheus in the Opera Memphis costume shop

A costume for one Furies in Orpheus in the Opera Memphis costume shop

When I went to visit Opera Memphis, I got a tour of the company’s huge space. In the costume shop, black and red outfits for the Furies (played by members of the New Ballet ensemble) were being constructed on mannequins. On a trip to the set and prop shop, I realized how similar a lot of operas are. The prop wall is organized by item – tankards, masks, swords, fancy dishes, torture devices.

The well-organized Opera Memphis prop wall

The well-organized Opera Memphis prop wall

Opera Memphis also employs a woman whose job title is “Wigs, Make Up and Marketing.” She runs the company’s wig shop (and she’s qualified to hand-make wigs).

I was also able to sit in on one of the rehearsals for the mezzo soprano version of “Orpheus”. Though many operas are sung in the language they were written in, “Orpheus” is  being sung in English. When Opera Memphis stages an opera that’s not sung in English, they have handy supertitles on screens so that everyone can follow along.

The cast of Orpheus (many of whom are traveling singers from around the country) and the staff of Opera Memphis were kind enough to take a break from their busy days and pose with the I Love Memphis sign:

Opera Memphis loves Memphis!

Opera Memphis loves Memphis!

Orpheus will run from January 22-24 and 29-31 at the Clark Opera Memphis Center.

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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  1. […] is staging their first-ever show in their beautiful East Memphis space. They’ll be staging three different versions of the classic opera, each featuring Orpheus sung in a different voice (a tenor, a countertenor, and a mezzo soprano). […]

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