Orpheus

Orpheus
By Evan Lawson. Choreography by Ashley Dougan and costume design by Jane Noonan. Presented by Forest Collective. Midsumma Festival. Sacred Heart Oratory Abbotsford Convent. 31 January — 3 February, 2019.

The reworking and reinterpretation of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice has resulted in many variations. The tragic story draws them into the sphere of the underworld of Hades and places them at the hands of the ruthless Calaïs who becomes besotted with the young couple. In this version Lawson explores the more neglected elements of the myth that suggest the presence of same-sex desire between the two male figures. This gives a different emphasis to how Eurydice is trapped in a love triangle that sees her suffer in unspeakable ways.

In order to delve into this more complex aspect of the story the contemporary opera is accompanied by contemporary dance. The combination of this original composition with the fluidity of movement offered by the choreography is astonishing. The three figures are simultaneously represented both in music and dance providing the opportunity to configure these characters from a variety of perspectives.

The atmosphere is incredibly intense as the music dramatically introduces scenes including the depiction of the rape and torture of Eurydice. The extraordinary and powerful voice of mezzo soprano, Kate Bright, is forcefully echoed by the highly talented dancer, Piaera Lauritz. Mirroring the characters in this way allows the emotional intensity to be conveyed in a truly moving and highly visceral manner. 

The ensemble of musicians and dancers is beautifully framed by an extremely refined costume design which delicately captures the ethereal quality of the story. The amazing acoustics offered by the venue contributes to making this a unique and unforgettable experience. 

Patricia Di Risio

Photographer: Kate Baker

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