4 Tay Records

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By Elodie Lauten

The June 2004 premiere of OrfReo at Merkin Hall is now available on DVD. This is 4Tay's first DVD recording release (Number 0001!) and Lauten's fourth release on the label, following The Deus Ex Machina Cycle (1999), Waking in New York (2003) and Piano Soundtracks (2005). The DVD features an exciting performance by The Queen's Chamber Band, led by harpsichordist Elaine Comparone and conductor Rudolph Palmer, featuring countertenor Marshall Coid in the title role, soprano Meredith Borden, mezzo-soprano Charlotte Surkin and baritone Peter Castaldi. The libretto was written by Michael Andre. Documentary is by Ludi Askins.

Read an American Record Guide Review Here

See an excerpt from OrfReo here

Viewers will need Quicktime Player

The Critics Say:
"Michael Andre's opera Ofreo was not the melo-opera I was expecting. Not an "opera a clef" Andre explains. Those coming for a re-run of Ray Johnson's heydays and his fateful finish will find no John Willenbecker, no Billy Name, no Tobie Speiselman, and no William S. Wilson.

"Michael Andre has set Orfreo / Ray in the company of mythic personages, and a crow. To this listener, Ms. Lauten's score was ravishing. The Queen's Chamber Band inspired. The assembled voices, in various roles stunning. N.B. The Merkin Concert Hall does not lower the lights sufficiently to allow one to grope one's seatmate hence I was able to devote complete attention to official proceedings. As to the question: "Why was man born only to die?" One is reminded that Ray planned his last event. It turns out that all his "nothings" were something all along-- of course! I wonder at this juncture, what his first planned art event was? Perhaps Bill Wilson will shed light on this. As for his last, when the tide turned in the Great Peconic Bay, he was gone. All was right: the numerology, the setting (see W. S. Wilson on Water in the Work of Ray Johnson), everything was, as planned. As the poet Manley Hopkins opined, "it is the fate man was born for..." and Ray took it in perfect backstroke, it is said. Not being an aficionado of swimming technique, I cannot comment. That he took this last event in hand I can. Man's Fate and his own, taken in hand, and for that the writers of opera and the fans of "the World's Most Famous Unknown Artist" will always remember him."
–Fletcher Copp


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