Gotham’s hip to opera

'Orfeo' kicks off at the Met

NEW YORK — Metropolitan Opera G.M. Peter Gelb has been on a kick to make his upscale arena a more hip cultural concern, and the opening night of “Orfeo ed Euridice” on May 2, with costumes by Isaac Mizrahi and choreography by maverick Mark Morris, certainly bucked tradition.

In this version of the epic, Orfeo was dressed a la Johnny Cash, complete with a guitar strapped to his back, and the chorus was sprinkled with historical figures from Gandhi to Napoleon and Babe Ruth to Amelia Earhart. Though it was Morris’ Met debut, he seemed unfazed, instead bringing his downtown sensibility to the Upper West Side. “It’s not like the end-all,” he said at a Lincoln Center after-party. “I’m really here to work with Jimmy.” (Meaning, natch, iconic Met conductor James Levine.)

Gelb, meantime, pointed out that in opera, there are no previews before opening night, making a new — experimental — production that much more high stakes.

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