Opera Society’s “Orpheus in the Underworld”: A preview

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This University of St Andrews Opera Society presents a new take on ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’, a comedy opera that promises to make you laugh, cry, and maybe even can-can.

If the prospect of an opera seems daunting, fear not. Orpheus is a satirical romp that has everything you could possibly want: a double love triangle, a sadistic violinist, and a house party in Hell. The show will be performed in English translation, no subtitles necessary. With familiar mythological figures and a whimsical plot, it is the ideal introduction to what may be an unfamiliar art form.

For those unfamiliar with the original myth, a brief recap: Orpheus is the son of Apollo whose marriage to the lovely Eurydice is abruptly ended with an unfortunate snake bite. Eurydice dies and Orpheus is desperate for a way to bring her back. He travels to the Underworld in the hopes of rescuing her, and strikes a bargain with Hades himself. Tragically, a single, longing glance over his shoulder breaks the deal and keeps Eurydice trapped in the Underworld.

Now, ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’ tells something of a different story. The French opera dates back to the mid-1800s, and is a delirious cocktail of myth, marriage, and madness. The characters are flamboyant and outlandish, and the music is a delight. All of this will be brought to life on the Byre stage this coming Sunday and Monday.

The show stars George Appleyard, a third-year Maths and Philosophy student, as the title role of Orpheus. Krisztina Rakoczy, an MLitt Medieval English student, takes on the role of the tempestuous Eurydice.

Director Kate McGregor calls the show her “passion project”. She says: “With its modern setting and fourth wall-breaking moments I wish to pull the audience into this magical, if bizarre, world”.

The Opera Society is a relatively new society, having only been established in 2016.  However, in that short time they have certainly hit the right note. The Society won Best New Society 2017 at the Society Awards. Previous productions include the highly acclaimed ‘Semele’, and the On the Rocks interactive production of ‘Dido and Aeneas’.

‘Orpheus in the Underworld’ goes up in the Byre Theatre this Sunday, March 4th, with a second performance on Monday, March 5th. The Sunday show begins at 8pm, while the Monday show will begin at 7pm. Tickets are available here: https://byretheatre.com/events/opsoc-orpheus-in-the-underworld/

So, whether you’re a devoted fan of the genre, or simply hoping for a Pretty Woman moment, ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’ promises an exciting new theatrical experience. Escape the Beast from the East with a trip down into the Underworld.

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