Orphee aux enfers at Iford Opera

iford 2 ROB COLESTHE Greek myth of Orpheus and his trip to the Underworld has never been more fun or more irreverent than in Jeff Clarke’s version for Iford Festival.

Regular audience members are accus­tomed to Opera della Luna’s antics, but there was general agreement on the beautiful middle Satur­day that Clarke has excelled himself with this free adaptation. He has reinstated lots of the dance which is often left out of performances of Offenbach’s comic opera, and with all 13 cast members (including the four dancers) on “stage”, the cloister is a riot of fun and colour and spectacle.

It all starts as Katharine Taylor Jones makes her “late” entrance to the auditorium, as the Dior suited and patent yellow shod Public Opinion. To her, Mr Clarke gives the task of holding the Arts Council and public funding up to ridicule, and, as the evening progresses, she moves on to European funding.

This is Greece, after all, and so the (very) current Euro crisis gets its own song, to the delight of the audience.  No-one could possibly come out of this Iford production saying that opera is dull and elitist.

ifrod 3There are the usual OdL bravura performances from a company chosen not only for its vocal excellence and brio but for acting to Jeff Clarke’s own inimitable requirements. It’s never subtle, but goodness it’s hilarious.

In a production that includes intrusive sheep, a golden zimmer frame, an exploding well, the essential Greek-myth wings, revealing body suits and lots of highly coloured hair, it would be easy for the performers to get lost.

Not so Ian Belsey, back in Iford as Jupiter, or the creepy Paul Featherstone straight out of the Munsters, or the devilish Carl Sanderson, or Suzanne Shakespeare as the extravagantly trilling Euridice, or indeed Katharine Taylor-Jones, whose straight-laced politically correct Public Opinion starts with a nod to Bryn Truffle.

Do get to see it if you can. There are seats on Wednesday 8th July, but returns only on Tuesday 7th and Friday 10th.



Photographs by Rob Coles

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