Orfeo ed Euridice in Lismore
Artistic director Dieter Kaegi presents this year Blackwater Valley Opera Festivalwhich returns to Lismore Castle from Waterford from 31 May to 6 June 2022 with Gluck’s masterpiece Orpheus and Eurydicedirected by Peter Whelan and directed by David Bolger of CoisCéim Dance Theatre.
Lismore Castle is a very special place. The community of Lismore is so welcoming to the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival year after year, and that hospitality means so much to us as artists.
When designing Orpheus for Lismore Castle, designer Maree Kearns was seduced by the magical quality and energy of the stable yard, its rich history and the land on which it was built. It is interesting to see how the Greek mythology of Orfeo, the musician and poet full of Gluck’s lyricism, reflects the magic of this Irish landscape.
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Listen: David Bolger and Peter Whelan talk Orfeo ed Euridice on RTÉ Arena
Acknowledging that Orfeo was first performed in 1762 and continues to be performed in all major opera houses and festivals around the world to this day, explains how this story of love and loss is so relevant today as it was then. Orfeo undertakes a long journey to preserve his love of Euridice, “what will he not do for love?
In many ways, being separated from those we love seems as prevalent today as it was in 1762. It’s a story that has been told and will be told again and again.
— Blackwater Valley Opera Festival (@B_V_O_F) May 14, 2022
Gluck’s music is full of dance, and indeed this libretto by Calzabigi places equal emphasis on those elements in equal measure to singing, so it seems natural for a choreographer to take the reins. The instrumental music plays a crucial role in this drama as much as the vocal lines. These dance elements also exist on vocals to comment on, propel, or mirror how the main protagonist, Orfeo, feels and how each scene affects him.
Likewise for storytelling, this baroque music has stood the test of time, now achieved through collaboration with Irish Baroque Orchestra Artistic Director Peter Whelan. The opera’s rich, descriptive narrative is told through these sequential dance passages, so they form a real cornerstone of the production and create a very clear narrative for our choreographer, David Bolger, to begin his creation.
Opera as an art form is unique in that it combines so many disciplines to achieve a production, no more than in Orpheus and Eurydice, where Gluck placed dance at the center of his concerns. It is the challenge and the opportunity for any director to combine different art forms in an exciting production, with rich and vibrant contemporary choreography.
The three roles of the opera; Orfeo, a musician and poet, Euridice, his wife, who dies of a snakebite on their wedding day, and the God of Love, Amor. This is combined with a chorus that plays arguably the fourth role of the Greek chorus, not only acting as commentators on the tale, but also playing a central role in shaping Orfeo’s journey. The reformist nature of the opera allows the arias to be emotional and speak from the heart, revealing the characters’ innermost feelings.
BVOF, through its wide range of venues across the valley, is filled with music and song during the festival, no more than thanks to our educational program in conjunction with Music Generation Waterford, where our ‘Discover Singing’ and ‘ Discover Opera” not only fills the classrooms but also the grounds of Lismore Castle with their enthusiastic voices for opera.
The communities of Waterford and Cork have embraced this festival and it is a privilege to perform opera in a region that places opera close to its heart, as we embark on the most ambitious program in the history of the BVOF.
The Blackwater Valley Opera Festival returns from 31 May to 6 June 2022 – find out more about this year’s program here.
Orfeo ed Euridice at Lismore Castle – Blackwater Valley Opera Festival 2022