The Orphic Moment by Matthew Aucoin (Harvard ’12) takes a freeze-frame look at the moment before Orpheus turns fatefully to look at Eurydice. In Harbison’s Symphony No. 5, the Orpheus myth is reflected in vivid poetry of Milosz, Glück, and Rilke, the eponymous hero’s lute represented by an electric guitar. With a libretto by Cocteau based on Sophocles, Stravinsky’s monumental and chilling opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex is a throbbing musical engine of fate.
“No matter the tessituras, no matter the pianissimos or fortissimos, Jon Jurgens’ tenor vividly emotionalized the starring role in Igor Stravinsky’s neo-classic “still life,” Oedipus Rex. Sharing those qualities in the role of mother, Michelle Trainor engendered a Jocasta that will also not soon be forgotten. Tenderness dissolving into aches with one admission of sin after another all spelled out in touching tones of the remarkable tenor Jurgens. Defending her son, then her husband, Trainor’s Jocasta soared into an unmistakable orbit of true maternal instincts. Singing in her deep soprano register terrified, while elsewhere her confutations of the oracle’s capability of telling the truth intensified in higher voice; it seemed no one could have been better cast.”
~David Patterson, The Boston Musical Intelligencer, 2/24/18
“As Jocasta, soprano Michelle Trainor, a local singer affiliated with the BLO, turned in the best performance I’ve yet heard from her. Trainor has a big voice of a type not heard much among local singers who cultivate the more delicate styles of the 17th century. One can imagine her burning up the stage in a Verdian or even Wagnerian work. Who will give her that chance? Here she made a sympathetic Jocasta, discovering slowly that her new husband not only killed her husband, the King, but is also her son by the King. At her entry the chorus has one of its spectacular outbursts, “Glory to Queen Jocasta!” And Trainor totally nailed her own balancing outburst, “Laius died at the crossroads,” when she begins to figure out what happened.
The duet between Trainor and Jurgens, “I am afraid, Jocasta, I am afraid,” and her ineffective consoling words, “The oracles lie; the oracles always lie,” was an emotional highlight of the work.”
~ David Bonetti, The Berkshire Fine Arts, 03/07/18