Altiveros and Gartner as the mythic couple in Seattle Opera’s ‘O+E.’ Photo by Philip Newton

Altiveros and Gartner as the mythic couple in Seattle Opera’s ‘O+E.’ Photo by Philip Newton

The Women of Seattle Opera Bring a Legend Into the Light

‘O+E’ strips things down for an all-female reimagining of a Greek myth.

The most striking image in O+E, Seattle Opera’s retitled production of Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice (1762), is its interpretation of Hades. As the title heroine, O, travels to the underworld to rescue her beloved, the realm’s five demon guardians are decked out in martial gear (specifically Northwest paramilitary survivalists, it looks like) and the focal gesture of Kathryn Van Meter’s choreography for them is the convulsion of a bullet-pierced body. The loveliest one is the white parachute/train Eurydice, aka E, flourishes on her entrance as she and O are briefly reunited. Such simple but effective notions are the hallmark of this unobtrusive reimagining, directed by Kelly Kitchens.

The body of the narrative is the classic Greek myth, but the production’s framing device brings it up to the present(ish) day, with O (Magda Gartner) standing vigil for her hospitalized lover, E (Tess Altiveros). Since Gluck’s original Orpheus was written for a female voice, the difference here is theatrical rather than musical, with O innovatively represented as a female character. The third vowel in the cast is A, for Amor (Serena Eduljee): the personification of love allegorized as a surgeon, a healer.

O+E is performed in a rehearsal room in Seattle Opera’s Terry Avenue studios with the small orchestra, led by Lucy Tucker Yates (who also wrote the elegantly poetic English translation), tucked behind translucent curtains. (Tiered seating has been added; it’s become a three-quarter-round theater.) No formal sets are utilized—and none needed; if you can’t tell, for example, from Gluck’s celestial/pastoral music that Act 2, Scene 2 is set in the Elysian fields, no visuals would help. During Sunday’s performance, the orchestra sounded a bit scrappy here and there, but the entrance of the 13-voice choir (which Gluck uses a lot; they’re practically a fourth character) was a satiny blanket of sound.

O+E

June 7–10, Seattle Opera Studios, $45, seattleopera.org

gborchert@seattleweekly.com

More in Arts & Culture

Britney Barber (center) and Samantha Demboski (left) perform in ‘Empty Orchestra.’ Photo courtesy Jet City Improv
Making It Up As They Go Along

Jet City Improv’s retributive actions towards a former player raise issues of the comedy institution’s staff culture.

‘Roma’ projects to be the big winner at the 91st Academy Awards this Sunday. Photo by Carlos Somonte
And The Winner Is: 2019 Oscars Preditions

Who will take home the awards on cinema’s biggest night?

TacocaT got you a new song for Valentine’s Day. Photo by Helen Moga
TacocaT Returns to Dance With Its Seattle Drag Pals in the “Grains of Salt” Video

The Seattle rock quartet’s new album ‘This Mess Is a Place’ comes out May 3 on Sub Pop.

After winning the Album of the Year Grammy for ‘Golden Hour,’ Kacey Musgraves yee-haws into town.
Pick List: Kacey Musgraves, Jen Kirkman, ‘The Passage’

The week’s best entertainment options.

Cherdonna Shinatra has a laugh during ‘<em>Ditch</em>.’ Photo by Jenny May Peterson
Clowning Around at the Frye with Cherdonna Shinatra’s ‘Ditch’

The colorful daily dance performance examines performative femininity and people-pleasing.

Mads Mikkelsen stars in Seattle’s current weather… I mean, ‘Arctic.’ Photo by Helen Sloan/Bleecker Street
Mads Mikkelsen Delivers a Tour de Force in ‘Arctic’

The near-silent performance makes this survival film transcend the genre.

Brandi Carlile needs more mantel space after taking winning three Grammys on Sunday night.
Seattle Cleans Up at the Grammys

Brandi Carlile, the Seattle Symphony, and Chris Cornell combine to take home six awards.

The upbeat everyman Emmet remains cheerful even in post-apocalyptic settings. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Everything’s Still Awesome

‘The Lego Movie 2’ builds on the success of the original with more humorous pop culture-drenched adventure.

Susan Lieu performs a version of 140 LBS at Northwest New Works in 2018. Photo by Joe Iano
Susan Lieu Feels The Weight of Death and Beauty

Her one-woman show ‘140 LBS’ confronts her mother’s death via plastic surgery malpractice.

Daniel Bryan flaunts his new eco-friendly WWE Championship. Photo courtesy WWE
Seattle’s Eco-Friendly WWE Champion

Aberdeen native Daniel Bryan once again tops the pro wrestling world, but this time he’s an intriguing environmental bad guy.