Renowned countertenor John Holiday is about to bring his remarkable talents to Los Angeles, as he stars in a world premiere at the LA Opera.
Holiday has made a name for himself as an operatic countertenor – a male singer who sings in the range of a woman – with performances around the world, from Portland to the Met in NYC to the Dutch National Opera. He has dazzled critics with his performances, with the New Yorker calling his voice “a thing of astonishing beauty” and the Los Angeles Times lauding him as “One of the finest countertenors of his generation.”
His newest role begins this weekend at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, when he takes the stage as “Orpheus’s Double” in Matthew Aucoin’s “Eurydice,” a world premiere opera based on the classic Greek myth of Orpheus, who descends to the underworld in an effort to win back his bride from Hades with the unparalleled beauty of his musical gifts. The same myth is also the basis for the current Broadway hit, “Hadestown.”
In his new opera, Aucoin partners with playwright Sarah Ruhl to reimagine the ancient myth for a modern age, unfolding the tale from the heroine’s point of view. Tragically killed on her wedding day, a young bride descends into the underworld, where she reconnects with her adoring father. Presented with the opportunity to return to her husband in the world of the living, she must choose between the two men she loves. The title role will be performed by Danielle de Niese.
Holiday, whose previous work includes world premieres of “We Shall Not Be Moved” and “Paradise Interrupted,” is not just known for opera. He has performed in several other genres, and often blends African American musical traditions of jazz, R&B, and gospel with opera in his solo performances.
The New Yorker highlighted him in a videotaped performance from a crypt Harlem, for a piece called “Bringing Gospel to the Opera.” In the videos below, you can see him performing classic American standards “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Summertime” in recordings made as part of New York’s WQXR Radio’s Classical Beer Jam series.
“Eurydice” runs February 2-23 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. You can find more info and tickets at the LA Opera website.
A trailer for the opera is below.