Review: Orfeo ed Euridice

Caitlin Hulcup as Orfeo. Pic: comp
Caitlin Hulcup as Orfeo. Pic: comp
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A WONDERFUL choral performance, mesmeric dancers, a stunningly simple but effective set design, a familiar tale and a very comfortable length; for anyone wishing to sample modern opera this is the show for you.

* * * * * *

Festival Theatre

Okay, so it doesn’t have a spine-tingling tenor – Gluck’s 1762 original was written for a castrato as Orpheus – but the lead in this Scottish Opera production is ably filled by Caitlin Hulcup and, if anything, the anguished battle with Lucy Hall as Euridice on the return from Hades makes it more relevant for a 21st Century audience.

Ana Quintans is a stunning Amore, Goddess of Love, appropriately dressed as Grace Kelly, but the Chorus is a stand-out, especially the beautiful funeral and condolence scene in Act One.

As befitting for former artistic director of Scottish Ballet, Ashley Page’s choreography in this his directorial debut for Scottish Opera is utterly captivating, and the giant revolving Perspex cube in which the drama is played out against ever-changing, fractured light is a fitting memorial to set designer Johan Engels, whose last work this was before his death in November.

The costumes too are well-chosen, from the Edwardian funeral at the start and the Furies of Hades with their Doctor Who-esque illuminated head-gear and red PVC jump suits.

Best of all are the Lost Souls, whose Zombie-like assortment of appearances from across the ages could have been inspired by the chilling dressed corpses still on display in the catacombs of Palermo.

But of course none of it works without the orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Montgomery, and a score which is a marker in the evolution of classical music before the glories of Mozart - glories on full display next Thursday at the Usher Hall with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra’s performance of the Requiem.

If you loved Orfeo, don’t miss that.

Next performances tonight and Saturday