Orfeo of Greek myth was the brave minstrel who dared to go where few had ventured to rescue his beloved Eurydice, armed only with his lyre and musical skills. Irish National Opera opened their 2019 programme at the far reaches of Dublin’s suburbs with a revival of Gluck’s 18th century Italian version of the ancient myth in a modern venue in Tallaght.
A validation of the company’s mission to venture beyond the major city centre venues, for many veterans of opening nights in the audience, it was a first visit to the convivial Civic Theatre.
There was a satisfying symmetry to Emma Martin’s modern, dance inspired production. A quartet of dancers were matched with a chorus of singers of the similar proportion. The performers all moved with ease and appeared to be cut from the same theatrical cloth. The sense was of a blended performance as the ensemble evoked the mourners, furies and the three headed hound of Hades.
The donning of white boiler suits in the blissful Elysian fields did baffle me somewhat.
Mezzo-soprano Sharon Carty shouldered the most prominent role, conveying Orfeo’s grief with clarity and sincerity. The appearance of mezzo-soprano Sarah Power as a spectral Euridice sheathed in swathes of cream fabric against the minimalist set of pastel drapes was a striking theatrical moment. Carty and Power were evenly matched in their Act 3 duets. Cork soprano Emma Nash completed the classy team as a nimble Amore.
The sense of balance across the company extended into the pit with an octet of period instruments drawn from the Irish Baroque Orchestra arrayed around harpsichord played by Peter Whelan.
Over a tidy running time, it was an intriguing journey to a beguiling other world.
Orfeo ed Euridice tours until March 2, including Theatre Royal, Waterford (Feb 14); Everyman, Cork (Feb 19); Glór, Ennis (Feb 21); Siamsa Tíre, Tralee (Feb 23)