Orpheus in the Underworld, The Coliseum - ★★★★ - Until November 28, 2019


Offenbach's operetta is a satire of Gluck's opera and of the reverence that his epoch held for classical Greece and its myths in particular. The work was meant to be a shocking but joyous romp through the story of Orpheus and Eurydice while commenting on modern society. Because the original satire may not resonate with contemporary audiences, directors have assumed a free rein and let imagination fly to bring out the intention of the composer's piece. The story which mocks the mores of modern marriage and the interference of the gods in human affairs for their own selfish and carnal reasons is basically there, but Emma Rice's book and Tom Morris' lyrics seek to emphasise the absurd and whimsical with a "freely adapted" version. The set and costume design are inventive and intend to capture that same spirit. At the centre of all the fun, however, is the singing. Mary Bevan was an outstanding Eurydice. Her voice rose to the demands of every occasion and she stood out in what was a generally strong cast. Another highlight for us was Alan Oke as John Styx singing 'The King of Poland.' The lyrics were clever with an undertone of pathos making his rendition an effective and affecting moment. Orpheus and Eurydice has become that operetta with the can-can, probably Offenbach's best known piece of music. We might have appreciated a bit more of the manic, high-kicking energy associated with the original, but the ENO version here was consistent with the overall conception of the work by director, Emma Rice.

Reviewed by J.C.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until November 28, 2019
Oct 11, 23, 30 & Nov 1, 8, 12, 21, 26, 28 at 7:30 pm
Oct 19 & 26 at 2:30 pm
The Coliseum
Nearest station: Charing Cross

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