English National Opera kicks off the 19/20 season with Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice (1762). The oldest of ENO’s Orpheus Series, it is directed by Wayne McGregor CBE in his ENO directorial debut.
Following a prestigious career in contemporary international dance, resident Choreographer at The Royal Ballet and double Olivier Award-winner Wayne McGregor CBE presents a dance led ENO directorial debut with Orpheus and Eurydice. He previously collaborated with ENO on the choreography of Salome in 2005 and this summer for ENO’s production of Noyes’s Fludde in which he choreographed the Raven and Dove Dance.
ENO’s Orpheus Series reimagines four operas exploring the Orpheus myth in autumn 2019. Each is interpreted by four directors from diverse theatrical disciplines, all in sets by renowned British designer Lizzie Clachan.
Orpheus and Eurydice tells the story of musician Orpheus who, overcome with grief at the death of his beloved wife Eurydice, will go to any lengths to be reunited with her. Descending to the perilous depths of the Underworld, Orpheus must charm its demons with sublime melodies to bring Eurydice back to the land of the living. There’s just one catch: Orpheus must lead his wife out of the Underworld without looking at her; or else she will be lost forever.
Gluck’s 18th century work bridges the Baroque and Classical periods and this production stems from Berlioz’s dedicated reworking of Gluck’s score. Its rich orchestral writing compliments McGregor’s distinct balletic choreography, and 14 dancers from Studio Wayne McGregor perform alongside the three lead operatic voices in an inter-disciplinary merging of dance and opera.
Distinguished mezzo-soprano Alice Coote OBE sings Orpheus, leading the three operatic principles. Renowned for her works across the great stages of the world including the Metropolitan Opera, New York and the Paris Opéra, she is best known for her breeches roles, of which she has been described as ‘a modern master’ (Chicago Sun Tribune).
ENO favourite Sarah Tynan returns to sing her first of two Eurydice roles this season, fresh from her triumphant turns as the titles in The Merry Widow and Lucia Di Lammermoor last season, the latter of which she performed ‘with a silvery purity of tone and an exquisite sense of line’ (the Guardian).
The trio of lead voices is completed by Lancashire born ENO Harewood Artist Soraya Mafi singing the role of Love. A fast-rising star soprano, she made her ENO debut as Edith in 2015’s The Pirates of Penzance, going on to sing Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2018.
Notable classical and baroque conductor Harry Bicket, Artistic Director of the English Concert and Music Director at Santa Fe Opera, returns to ENO where he began his career, bringing with him a fine period sensibility.
The set design is by Lizzie Clachan and the costumes are by fashion designer and artist Louise Gray. Lighting is by Olivier Award-winning lighting designer Jon Clark. Ben Cullen-Williams is the production’s video designer, with choreography by Wayne McGregor.
The translation is by Christopher Cowell.
Orpheus and Eurydice opens Tuesday 1 October at 19:30 at the London Coliseum for 8 performances: Oct 1, 10, 17, 24, 31 & Nov 14, 19 at 19:30. Oct 12 at 14:00.