November 17, 2006 Orphée aux enfers Juilliard Opera Center, New York By Martin Bernheimer **** Everyone knows that Lincoln Center hosts two opera houses, the mighty Met and the brave City Opera. We tend to forget a third haven for the lyric muse: the academic Juilliard Opera Center. We remembered on Wednesday. The bill was Offenbach's Orphée aux enfers (Orpheus in the Underworld), a parody of ancient mythology seldom ventured by American companies. For many, the chief attraction was the conductor, Anne Manson. She untied every rhythmic and melodic knot of this naughty opéra bouffon with flair that buoyed both a splendid orchestra and an eager cast. She imposed fast tempos that never seemed rushed, transparent textures that never seemed precious. She sustained propulsion without leaving anyone breathless. It was an elegant achievement.