'Ormindo': Earthy Poetry

April 11, 1991|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,Sun Music Critic

The plots of most operas are -- if not laughable -- certainly prosaic. But the plot of Francesco Cavalli's "Ormindo," which will be performed by Peabody Opera Theatre tomorrow and Saturday nights in Friedberg Hall, is pure poetry.

Such is the opinion of Roger Brunyate, Peabody's director, who has staged this production and who also created the very successful production of the same composer's "Calisto" at Peabody four years ago.

" 'Ormindo' is more down-to-earth than 'Calisto' -- there are no gods and goddesses -- but it is still predominantly romantic, much in the manner of Shakespeare," Brunyate says. "Its poetic heights reflect the deepest feelings of real people and its moments of bawdy touch the common humanity in all of us."

"Ormindo's" fanciful plot recounts the story of Erisbe, the queen of Morocco and Fez. She is married to the wonderful King Ariadeno, an older man who dotes on her. But the fly in the otherwise splendid ointment of her marriage is that Ariadeno is impotent. When two young noblemen, Amida and Ormindo, declare their love for her, Erisbe decides she has a right to a sex life. She decides to elope with Ormindo because she discovers that Amida has a former lover whom he has jilted.

Matters take a dark turn in Act II when Ariadeno gets ugly about the matter of his cuckolding. He orders the lovers pursued and put to death. When they are captured and imprisoned, the jealous king orders his captain of the guard, Osmano, to administer a draught of poison.

After both characters "die," old Ariadeno realizes that he can neither command nor kill love and that if he had really loved Erisbe he would have let her go. But in a surprise ending that is reminiscent of Shakespeare's last plays, the two lovers miraculously come back to life. Knowing that the old king would eventually come to his senses, the tender-hearted captain only administered a sleeping potion.

As in Shakespeare's plays, there is a general rejoicing that leaves "everybody wiser than they were when they started," Brunyate says. "This is the kind of work in which everybody realizes what is meant by commitment."

"Ormindo" will be performed Friday and Saturday at 8:15 p.m. Call 659-8124 for ticket information.

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