Inland Northwest Opera brings “Orpheus and Eurydice” to the Fox stage
Set designer Christopher Mumaw first signed on to work with Inland Northwest Opera on a production of Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” in 2020. But when the coronavirus pandemic forced the season to end prematurely, general manager Dawn Wolski decided to move their production team to another direction.
Determined to make any potential performance as adaptable as possible, Wolski first determined a date she could realistically expect to bring people back to a theater before sorting out a new list of shows that would require smaller actors. , film well and allow social distancing on stage.
“Orphée et Eurydice” by Christoph Willibald Gluck was the perfect occasion. With just three lead roles, an eight-part ensemble choir, and six dancers, the show’s relatively small cast allows for all of the above.
When tragedy separates Orpheus (Emily Fons) from his beloved wife Eurydice (Emily Birsan), the distraught young man makes a deal with Amore (Jocelyn Claire Thomas), a mysterious figure who promises Orpheus a second chance. Descending into the underworld with Amore’s help, Orpheus decides to bring Eurydice back, but there’s a catch: he must convince her to follow without speaking.
Performed in Italian with English subtitles, Inland Northwest Opera’s “Orpheus and Eurydice” begins at 7:30 pm on Friday October 29th and at 3:00 pm on Sunday October 31st. Set in a dreamy landscape from the “Mad Men” era, the brand new production reinvents Orpheus as a musician mourning the loss of her lover.
“The story really focuses on what grief does to people and how far and how far they will go to deal with their grief and loss,” Mumaw said.
We meet the grieving artist in the bar where, presumably, he and Eurydice first met. Recalling with his friends, Orpheus’ mood darkens as he surrenders to grief. Soon after, Amore’s figure appears with a proposal.
“She looks three-dimensional, but we don’t know if she’s real or not because she’s giving him this wild thing,” Mumaw said. Vulnerable as he is, Amore ends up convincing Orpheus to descend into the underworld.
The scenography allows for great fluidity as the strange experiences of Orpheus unfold, moving between the bar, the entrance to Hades and Elysian, the underground kingdom where Eurydice went. In the bar scene, we see a set of three neon signs in different colors, each serving as a color inspiration for the other settings.
“It’s like in this kind of blurry, drunken state he has taken little pieces of his world and thrown them into these spaces as he goes to find his lover,” Mumaw said. “We don’t really know where we are sometimes, but the hope is that with each subsequent place, we will come back to reality.”
Having worked several times with director Dan Wallace Miller and lighting designer Marnie Cumings, Mumaw was happy to return to the stage with a team he knew he could count on.
“Dawn was able to pull off as much spectacle and entertainment as possible,” Mumaw said. “It was already an exciting hearing experience, but now there are also all these visual components that support it. “
From sets and lighting to music and dancing, “People should be prepared to be entertained,” Mumaw said.