Don’t look back: Here comes Orphee

Portland Opera didn’t exactly go to Hell and back to make its first commercial recording. Or maybe it did.

Can it really have been only last November that Philip Glass‘s opera Orphee, based on Jean Cocteau‘s celebrated 1949 film version of the myth about the man who lost his love by looking back at her as he guided her out of the Underworld, was the talk of Puddletown? When perhaps the world’s most famous living serious composer was in town, taking in rehearsals of the opera company’s revival of his 1993 musical drama?

Courtesy Portland OperaGlass decided he liked the Portland cast so much that it should be recorded, leading to a double first: Portland Opera’s first-ever commercial recording, and the first full recording of Orphee, part of a Cocteau trilogy by Glass that also includes La Belle et la Bete and Les Enfants Terribles.

Now it’s here. Today, Portland Opera’s Julia Sheridan sent out word that the two-disc set, released on the Glass-centric Orange Mountain Music label, has hit the shelves. You can buy it online at the opera company’s Web site, or at its box office south of OMSI, and soon, we imagine, at all the usual places.

Portland Opera’s version of Orphee, in a production that originated at Glimmerglass Opera in Upstate New York, was terrific, and fellow Scatterers may recall that we covered it like a Methodist missionary desperately throwing wet blankets over the sunbathers at a nude beach. Here is the outcome of our group interview with Glass, which came before Mr. Scatter blogged live from the Keller Auditorium on opening night: the results of that act of impertinent bravado are here, here, here, and here. A little later, Mr. Scatter offered empirical evidence of why his fellow blogger Storm Large was besieged by autograph hounds and he was not.

Time to slip that CD into your stereo and raise a Glass in a toast. Just don’t look over your shoulder.