Press Preview: Orpheus in the Underworld

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When I went to see an opera called ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’, I was expecting something sombre and melodramatic, and what I got instead was a Jupiter spilling leopard print thongs from his pockets, a Eurydice who can’t wait to get away from her husband’s awful music and a very sexy fly. Needless to say, I was delighted. Offenbach’s witty operetta was done with a real sense of humour, and the whole thing was a joy to watch.

Will Blake’s Orpheus was sweet pitiable delight, pushed around by his mother into rescuing the wife he hates. He was charming, and his singing not bring the strongest fitted well with his character of enthusiastic if not exceptional musician. James Gedit’s Jupiter was suitably a mix of casual incompetence and opportunistic lasciviousness and as a whole the group of gods formed a wonderful ensemble of blending voices and charming interplay. The real outstanding performance was from Julia Sitkovetsky as Eurydice. Along with simply stunning feats of singing she brought a cheeky, slinky spark to the part.

The simple design of the set was creatively used, and the costumes were infused with the same wit and lightness as the rest of the production- Mars comes on wearing army uniform and dark glasses, Cerberus is three chaps all wearing halloween dog masks and best of all Dominic Bowe as Pluto appears in a black suit, red tie and requisite devilish goatee.

My sense of the whole production was one of energy and humour. There was a real shared enjoyment between the singers, the audience and the orchestra. The lacy thong of one of Jupiter’s conquests appeared hung on the conductor’s music stand at the beginning of the second half, and I could see the orchestra smiling along with the jokes. There was a really lovely atmosphere of fun throughout the whole piece.

Unfortunately, this wonderful production was slightly let down by a few clumsy directorial touches. At the beginning, Eurydice sings about picking flowers, but is throwing them out of her basket in a sort of “look here are the flowers” kind of way, and although the whole production was in modern dress, the first time Venus comes on she is holding a fan- in a sort of “we know that fans are to do with wooing” kind of way. This is not to suggest that these things overshadowed or outweighed the liveliness and strength of this really wonderful production, it’s just a shame because with a tiny bit more attention to detail this production could have been perfect.

4 STARS

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