As a fan of both operas and cycling, I of course wanted to see the show Orphée et Eurydice à bicyclette (Orpheus and Eurydice on bicycles) that was playing in Paris at the Lucernaire in January 2018. This “musical fantasy” was written by Pierre Lericq, who also performed it along with Marie Réache.
The two of them play all the roles in the piece: they are Orpheus and Eurydice, of course, but also the parents of Orpheus and various other characters, like an Italian film director and a clueless female teenage talent show contestant. As in all the shows I have seen at the Lucernaire so far, this was all done with the utmost precision and professionalism.
In the original mythology from ancient Greece, Orpheus is the world’s best singer. His lovely bride, Eurydice, dies from a snakebite on their wedding day. Orpheus, inconsolable, sings his way into the underworld and gets permission to bring Eurydice back to life with him, but under one condition, that on the way up he must not look back to see if she is following him. After a while he gives in to temptation and glances back, and she is lost forever.
All you loyal readers of my post Monteverdi in Cremona might recall that the world’s first full-scale opera, or one of the first, was L’Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi, composed in 1607. I have seen L’Orfeo several times at the Bockenheimer Depot in Frankfurt am Main, as staged by David Hermann, and once, in a very different production by John Dew, in Darmstadt. More recently, I saw a brilliant production of L’Orfeo (saw it twice, in fact, because I liked it so much) done by young singers, dancers and musicians at the opera house in Reims, France.
I have also seen the best-known parody of this story, Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach, as described in my post Rostock twenty years later.
So I was well prepared to see the musical fantasy version at the Lucernaire, even though I didn’t have the chance to read the text beforehand. And yes, they really did have two bicycles on stage, two stationary bicycles that they pedaled vigorously while singing just as vigorously.
Address of the Lucernaire: 53 Rue Notre-Dame des Champs, 75006 Paris.
Métro: Notre-Dame des Champs (line 12) or Vavin (line 4).
Vélib’ bicycle station 6006: 41 Rue Notre-Dame des Champs.
My photos in this post are from 2014 and 2018. I revised the text in 2022.
See more posts on the Lucernaire in Paris.