Opera Queensland and Blue Roo Theatre Company joined forces to create a production of Gluck’s opera Orpheus and Eurydice (fun fact: this is the opera parodied so perfectly by Offenbach’s satirical masterpiece Orpheus in the Underworld).
You may well be familiar with the ancient Roman story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Eurydice dies from a snake bite, and her husband Orpheus has to use his musical prowess and persuasive skills to get the gods to allow him to go to the underworld and bring Eurydice back. There are, however, conditions attached: he must not look back at Eurydice until they both reach the surface, or she will be lost forever. It is a beautiful story of human weaknesses like distrust and insecurity and Gluck’s opera delves more deeply into these issues than most incarnations of the story. It explores both Orpheus’s frustration and the extreme temptation he experiences wanting to ensure his wife is following him, as well as considering the confusion and hurt Eurydice experiences being essentially ignored by the man she loves.
Blue Roo Theatre company provides people with disabilities opportunities to perform by which its members formed the ensemble for this production. Their vocal talent and enthusiasm was so clear in every moment and they beautifully complimented and supported the Opera Queensland soloists who played the roles of Eurydice, Orpheus and Amor (Jessica Low, Louise Dorsman and Susan Elis). The use of movement to enhance the story telling was something that really unified the ensemble’s performance and made it something quite unique.
The simple set design of lit columns gave the atmosphere of ancient Rome without distracting from the performances. This was further enhanced by the simple toga costumes worn throughout the production. Having the orchestra onstage cultivated a stronger connection between the performers and the music.
I’ll be completely honest- Gluck’s opera itself is not to my taste. The music is undoubtedly beautiful, but it can be quite heavy and solemnly dreary. What I loved about this production however, was that the performers transcended that and brought a levity to the show that I had not been able to discern before. What really stood out to me was the incredible love and support that shone throughout the performance- both in small gesture between the performers onstage and between the audience and performers at the end of the show. One of the final lyrics of the show was ‘Love can conquer all’ and it was incredibly fitting. I was left with a lovely feeling of joy and positivity that stayed with me well after the applause died down. Look out for Blue Roo Theatre’s upcoming productions, by following their website: Blue Roo Productions.