Considered a great operatic love story, Gluck’s 1762 work Orfeo ed Euridice was based on the Greek myth of Orpheus, an acclaimed musician and poet who was said to have been able to charm all things with his music. After his wife Eurydice’s tragic death, Orpheus is plunged into mourning and expresses his immense grief through music. This is where the opera begins. Moved by his plight, Cupid sends Orpheus to the Underworld to retrieve his wife, all the while his beautiful music profoundly affects all he comes into contact with. As with any Greek myth, there is always a catch and a lesson to be learnt. In this case, Orpheus must travel back from the Underworld ahead of Eurydice and not look back at her until returning to the world of the Living. The pivotal element of the deal being that if he dares to look back, Eurydice will be taken back to the Underworld and gone forever.

Gluck’s opera has been rewritten and translated from the original Italian many times over the last 250 years. This new production sees the originally three-act opera reduced to one-act, and translated into English with new orchestral arrangements for a small chamber group. The size of this production worked well in the performance space, and it was a treat to have the chamber orchestra on-stage and visible throughout the performance.

It is the aim of Blue Roo Theatre Company to provide performing opportunities for people who live with a disability. The collaboration between Blue Roo, Opera Queensland and the Judith Wright Centre seeks to create new works with the aim of addressing a greater level of artistic inclusion of people with diverse abilities and impairment through unique artistic experiences. This production’s process had members of Opera Queensland sing the lead roles and lead the chorus numbers to create a scaffold for the Blue Roo ensemble of performers. This approach not only granted the audience the opportunity to hear the beautiful solo voices of Opera Queensland professionals Louise Dorsman (Orpheus), Jessica Low (Eurydice) and Susan Ellis (Cupid), but also provided an opportunity for the ensemble cast to work alongside these professional performers in an inclusive environment.

It was amazing to witness such an enthusiastic and engaged cast of performers with diverse abilities, and to see the result of the patience, dedication and commitment of all of the performers in coming together to reach their collaborative goal. Music truly is a universal language which knows no boundaries, and this production certainly proved that music can connect people of diverse abilities to create something uniquely inclusive and entertaining.

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Written by Julie Whiting