IN Series’s ‘Orphée et Eurydice’ strikes chord of COVID love and loss

An intimate opera about a husband losing his wife to sickness sung by a real-life married couple filmed in isolation.

IN Series returns to the original revolutionary opera, Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice, for an intimate film experience exploring love, loss, and grief during a global pandemic in which millions have lost those they love. For this uniquely personal project filmed during isolation, husband and wife Benjamin Williamson (English National Opera, Bonn Stuttgart) and Paula Sides (English Touring Opera, Royal Opera House) allowed a PPE-protected filmmaker into their home to make a cinematographic opera experience about a husband losing his beloved wife to sickness and entering into the unspeakable process of grieving that follows.

After the music was recorded remotely on two continents with pianist and music director Simone Luti (La Scala, Canadian Opera Company), director Timothy Nelson worked remotely over Zoom to rehearse and direct the project from across the Atlantic. A new poetic English text by Andrew Albin makes this immortal opera a shattering contemporary journey through the most intimate of human experiences, recasting the myth of Orpheus as a composition for only two lovers, in which the forces of chorus (provided by students of Shenandoah University) and other characters sound as voices from the outsides.

Artistic Director Timothy Nelson shares: “Gluck’s Orpheus is an opera that changed the world. How appropriate is it now that we use this opera to speak about a world which is itself forever changed? Rarely has a project been more intimate than this, filmed in the home—the bedroom, the kitchen, the bath—and with the children, of a husband and wife exploring what it would be to lose one another. The exigency of these unprecedented times urges us to make work which speaks in new ways to the small aching places of the human spirit—to make art that heals. The courage of artists Paula Sides and Benjamin Williamson, who himself suffered similar loss at an early age, is what makes IN Series’s first film speak with an honesty rarely found on the operatic stage.”

Orphée et Eurydice is available free starting Sunday, November 1, 2020, at 3:00 PM EST online. Join the Artists’ Tea on Zoom at 4:30 PM EST on Sunday, November 1, for a conversation and celebration with the artists and creators behind Orphée.

Available at INVISION: The Logan Operahouse Without Walls is a first-of-its-kind multi-venue virtual performing arts center, which hosts innovative works of opera theater serving IN Series’s mission to “transform artists, audiences, and community by disrupting expectations, nourishing empathy, stimulating insight, and deepening the conversation.” Free and subscription memberships are available here.

Orphée et Eurydice
An Opera Film about Love and Loss in the Time of COVID
Music by Christoph Willibald Gluck; New English Translation by Andrew Albin
Directed by Timothy Nelson; Music Direction by Simone Luti
Benjamin Williamson (London), Orpheus
Paula Sides (London), Eurydice
The Chorus of Shenandoah Conservatory (Winchester, Virginia), Ensemble
Matthew Oltman, Chorus Master

IN Series is the standard-bearer for innovative opera theater in Washington, DC. We make theater from music: transforming artists, audiences, and community by disrupting expectations, nourishing empathy, stimulating insight, and deepening the conversation. IN Series envisions a thriving global community in which opera is a fully integrated and essential part of collective conversation. In picturing the journey to this end, IN Series is a change-maker—a force that, with each groundbreaking production and outreach event, radically transforms perceptions of the “who,” “what,” “where,” and “why” of opera: who gets to make opera and for whom is it made; what is defined as an operatic experience; where operas take place; why we make opera; and why opera matters.

Founded by Carla Hübner in 1982 as a concert series of the former Mount Vernon College, “The In Series” became an independent nonprofit arts organization in 2000 and has been a resident company at Source Theater since 2008. Timothy Nelson assumed artistic directorship in 2018, quickly establishing the newly rebranded “IN Series” as DC’s home for “Thought, debate, history, and innovation” (DC Metro Theatre Arts) in opera.


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