Opera Company of Philadelphia director Robert Driver first worked on a production of Hector Berlioz’s French adaptation of Orphée & Eurydice, by 18th century German composer Christoph Gluck, over 40 years ago. Since then he has seen it disabused many times on opera stages, so he puts his earthy imprimatur on it here

“This is the first time in the US of the Berlioz adaptation that the composer took from Gluck’s two versions. A lot of productions cloud the piece with busy junk, I wanted to see one with simplicity,” Driver explained this week.

“Even though it is early 18th century and is filled with long soliloquies, there is one gorgeous melody which people recognize, but might not know it’s from this opera. Course I worked closely with our conductor Corrado Rovaris. I wanted it to be very clean, because there is so much musically going on.”

Unlike many productions of the opera, Driver he also doesn’t soften the fait accompli after Orphée’s visit to the underworld trying retrieve his beloved.

“The story doesn’t work for me if everything ends up fine. Death is death in this and I don’t know any version that successfully changes that. It’s the guts of the piece where Orphee is trying to get Eurydice- he cannot look at her and he can’t explain the situation. Like an nightmare.”