Photo by Bill Mohn
Photo by Bill Mohn

Early Music Vancouver (EMV) presents the first unqualified masterpiece in operatic history, Monteverdi’s Orfeo Oct 29).

Often described as a “game changer” in the history of music, this classic myth of love and loss marks the end of the Renaissance and the beginning of the Baroque.

Here are five reasons you should see it:

History’s first unqualified masterpiece

Though Orfeo is not technically the first opera, there is no doubt it is the first undisputed masterpiece in Western operatic history. It balances tuneful music, dramatic word painting, rich orchestration of exotic instruments, and exquisite writing for vocal ensemble with a compelling narrative urgency, making it both entertaining and emotionally compelling.

Grammy award-winning talent takes the stage

Music Director and Grammy award-winner Stephen Stubbs is one of the world’s most respected lutenists, conductors, and Baroque opera specialists. After a remarkable and highly acclaimed career in Europe, he returned to his native Seattle in 2007 to establish Pacific MusicWorks (PMW). He will be leading PMW in this riveting work.

The Vancouver connection

Returning to the EMV stage is Vancouver lyrical tenor Colin Balzer, starring as the dashing Orfeo. Following his musical studies at University of British Columbia, Balzer was a prizewinner in competitions in Holland, Germany, and England, as well as recipient of the Gold Medal at the Robert Schumann Competition in Zwickau. Today, the sought-after tenor has a major, international career.

A tragic love story

This tragic tale follows the Greek musician and demi-god, Orfeo (Orpheus in the original legend), who after losing his beloved Euridice to a snake bite, descends into Hades to use the power of music to convince the god of the underworld, Plutone, to return his beloved to life.

A classic Work that stands the test of time

Including rich orchestration and a host of exotic instruments, Orfeo is a balance of pure jubilation and heart-wrenching tragedy that feels as fresh today as it must have been in the 17th century.

Monteverdi’s Orfeo plays the Chan Shun Concert Hall at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts (6265 Crescent Rd, Vancouver) on October 29. Visit for tickets and information.