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24 October, 2019

If you go to one opera this year, make it Orpheus & Eurydice

This extraordinary production feels more like stepping into a contemporary art gallery than passively watching a show.

Written by Gluck in 1762, this magnificent mythic tale of love, loss, grief and redemption is catapulted into the 21st century thanks to clever, minimalist staging and the ingenious addition of Brisbane’s very own Circa to the accomplished Opera Queensland ensemble.

OQ’s two leads Owen Willets and Natalie Christie Peluso play the star-crossed lovers with intensity.

Countertenor Willetts is delightful as the tormented, youthful Orpheus, while Christie Peluso’s portrayal of Eurydice is strong and sensual.

Circa provides the physical drama, with eight of the strongest, most flexible, acrobatic performers imaginable.

Using ropes and silk, they suspend themselves metres above the stage, lowering into the underworld.

They literally throw themselves at each other; they flip, and turn, gyrate and writhe bringing Orpheus and Eurydice’s anguish to a terrifying reality.

The staging is all white, with subtitles projected onto the back wall, which evaporates into smoke, adding to the mythic drama of the production.

Costuming follows the pared downstaging with characters clad in black, red and white.

All performers are barefooted which brings a freshness and equality to their presence.

At one magical point in the production, Eurydice is bemoaning her love for Orpheus and is surrounded by three female Circa performers who surround her, creating a moveable, three-dimensional version of Matisse’s painting ‘Dance’—absolutely breathtaking.

The score is lilting and light one moment, anguished and distressed the next and is ably brought to life by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

There is a wonderful accessibility about Orpheus & Eurydice, teenagers and opera buffs alike will revel in its splendour.

The triumph of love is there for all to witness.