The Mask of Orpheus

Synopsis

 

Act 1

Orpheus and Euridice fall in love and marry. Euridice later dies from a snake bite, and Orpheus consults the Oracle of the Dead, intending to follow her to the Underworld.

 

Act 2

Orpheus journeys to the Underworld through seventeen arches, each with a symbolic name. On his journey back, he believes Euridice is following him, but it is actually Persephone and the mime Euridice. Orpheus goes back for Euridice but realises she cannot follow him. Orpheus hangs himself. The act ends with Orpheus waking up, realising that his journey to the Underworld was a dream.

The Seventeen Arches

Each of the arches that Orpheus must travel through is given a symbolic name.

1st Arch – The Arch of Countryside

2nd Arch – The Arch of Crowds

3rd Arch – The Arch of Evening

4th Arch – The Arch of Contrast

5th Arch – The Arch of Dying

6th Arch – The Arch of Wings

7th Arch – The Arch of Colors

8th Arch – The Arch for Secrecy

9th Arch – The Arch of Glass

10th Arch – The Arch of Building

11th Arch – The Arch of Weather

12th Arch – The Arch of Eyes

13th Arch – The Arch of Knives

14th Arch – The Arch of Animals

15th Arch – The Arch of Robes (or Roads)

16th Arch – The Arch of Blood

17th Arch – The Arch of Fear

 

Act 3

At the start of this act, time is moving backwards: Orpheus travels back out of and into the Underworld, and Euridice dies once more. Then time moves forwards as Orpheus leaves the Underworld again. One version of the Orpheus story is that he is then killed by a thunderbolt thrown by Zeus, while another is that he is dismembered by the women of Dionysus. Orpheus then becomes the subject of a cult and an oracle. Time flows backwards once more, and Orpheus' death is acted out again, and the opera ends with the Orpheus myth decaying.

Program and cast

Creative Team


Martyn Brabbins - Conductor

James Henshaw - Second Conductor

Daniel Kramer - Director

Lizzie Clachan - Set Designer

Daniel Lismore - Costume Designer

Peter Mumford - Lighting/Video Designer

Peter Zinovieff - Librettist


Cast


Peter Hoare - Orpheus the Man

Daniel Norman - Orpheus the Myth/Hades

Marta Fontanals-Simmons - Eurydice the Woman

Susan Bickley - Eurydice the Myth/Persephone

James Cleverton - Aristaeus the Man

Simon Bailey - Aristaeus the Myth/Charon

Claron McFadden - The Oracle of the
Dead/Hecate

Robert Hayward - The Caller

William Morgan - First Priest/Judge of the Dead

David Ireland - Second Priest/Judge of the Dead

Simon Wilding - Third Priest/Judge of the Dead

Charlotte Shaw - First Woman/Fury 1

Katie Coventry - Second Woman/Fury 2

Katie Stevenson - Third Woman/Fury 3

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London Coliseum

The home of ENO is the London Coliseum in the heart of London’s West End. Conveniently positioned in Theatreland, the theatre is near both Trafalgar Square and Leicester Square and benefits from the proximity of a number of tube stations and Charing Cross national rail station.
 

With the widest stage in London, it is a perfect venue for dance and performing arts companies. The glorious Edwardian architecture and interiors were magnificently restored in 2004, providing a beautiful auditorium and wonderful entertaining spaces throughout the building.  
 

 

HISTORY OF THE COLISEUM

 

The London Coliseum was designed by Frank Matcham for Sir Oswald Stoll with the ambition of being the largest and finest ‘People’s palace of entertainment’ of the age. 
 

Matcham wanted a Theatre of Variety – not a music hall but equally not highbrow entertainment. The resulting programme was a mix of music hall and variety theatre, with one act - a full scale revolving chariot race - requiring the stage to revolve. The theatre’s original slogan was PRO BONO PUBLICO (For the public good). It was opened in 1904 and the inaugural performance was a variety bill on 24 December that year.
 

With 2,359 seats it is the largest theatre in London. It underwent extensive renovations between 2000 and 2004 when an original staircase planned by Frank Matcham was finally put in to his specifications.The theatre changed its name from the London Coliseum to the Coliseum Theatre between 1931 and 1968. During the Second World War, the Coliseum served as a canteen for Air Raid Patrol workers, and Winston Churchill gave a speech from the stage. After 1945 it was mainly used for American musicals before becoming in 1961 a cinema for seven years.  In 1968 it reopened as The London Coliseum, home of Sadler’s Wells Opera. In 1974 Sadler’s Wells became English National Opera and the Company bought the freehold of the building for £12.8 million in 1992. The theatre underwent a complete and detailed restoration from 2000 which was supported by National Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage, The National Lottery through Arts Council England, Vernon & Hazel Ellis and a number of generous trust and individual donors to whom we are extremely grateful.The auditorium and other public areas were returned to their original Edwardian decoration and new public spaces were created. The theatre re-opened in 2004.
 

The London Coliseum has the widest proscenium arch in London (55 feet wide and 34 feet high – the stage is 80 feet wide, with a throw of over 115 feet from the stage to the back of the balcony) and was one of the first theatres to have electric lighting. It was built with a revolving stage although this was rarely used which consisted of three concentric rings and was 75 feet cross in total and cost Stoll £70,000. A range of modern features included electric lifts for patrons, a roof garden and an Information Bureau in which physicians or others expecting urgent telephone calls or telegrams could leave their seat numbers and be immediately informed if required.

 

FINDING LONDON COLISEUM

 

Nearest Underground

Charing Cross - 0.2 miles 
Northern Line 
Leicester Square - 0.2 miles 
Northern & Piccadilly Lines 
Covent Garden - 0.3 miles 
Northern & Piccadilly Lines 
Embankment - 0.3 miles 
Bakerloo, Circle, District & Northern Lines
 

Nearest Overground

Charing Cross - 0.2 miles 
Waterloo - 0.8 miles
 

Nearest Buses

3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29, 53, 77a, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176


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